Manchester United could be set to land the new Rio Ferdinand in Benfica defender Victor Lindelof, that’s according to former Red Jesper Blomqvist. Talks between the two clubs for the 22-year-old Swede have taken place and United are confident of getting their man in the upcoming January transfer window.
Jose Mourinho seems to have stumbled on the defensive partnership of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo due to the injuries to Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly. Jones and Rojo have started six of United’s last seven matches in all competitions, in which they are unbeaten however Mourinho is looking to bolster his defensive options, especially given that Bailly will head to the Africa Cup of Nations in January with his native Ivory Coast and Blomqvist – who was a part of the treble winning side with United in 1999 – insists Lindelof will be “perfect” for the Reds. Blomqvist told the Manchester Evening News:
“I was watching the November match between Sweden and France on TV and caught a glimpse of Jose Mourinho in the stand.
“My first thought was that it could only be Victor Lindelof he was looking at. My second thought was what a great signing that would be for the player and Manchester United. It would be perfect.
I have seen him play for the national under-21s, the senior side and in the Champions League for Benfica and he has the right qualities.
“He’s quick, confident with the ball, likes to play and is very strong. For United fans I think the best comparisons would be with Rio Ferdinand and Ronny Johnsen.
I’m not saying he is at their level yet but he is very capable of getting there. He’s a mature player and a mature person.”
Blomqvist is just one of four Swedish players to ever represent Manchester United with the latest being Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The nippy winger was actually the first Swede to don the famous Red jersey when he moved to Old Trafford in 1998 from Italian side Parma. He joined the Reds at the beginning of the 1998/99 campaign and was drafted in as a backup option to Ryan Giggs.
The Swede made 25 appearances as United just pipped Arsenal to the Premier League title in 1999, however, had to settle for a place on the bench in United’s 2-0 FA Cup final triumph over Newcastle United at Wembley. Suspension saw Roy Keane and Paul Scholes miss the 1999 Champions League final which allowed Blomqvist to start on the left-wing. He was replaced by Teddy Sheringham midway through the second half as United came from behind to complete an unprecedented treble.
The former AC Milan and Everton player praised his fellow Swede for his character after moving to Portugal as a 17-year-old to join Benfica from local Swedish side Vasteras SK.
“One thing I like is he hasn’t gone an easy route with his career.
“I think making the decision to go to Portugal at that age and making a success of it and then doing what he did for the under-21s shows the character of the player.
“That tells you everything you need to know about him. Obviously, a move to Manchester United is a different level again.
“Not every Swede is Zlatan Ibrahimovic! But you get the feeling that Victor would handle it okay. I don’t think Mourinho is actually looking for someone to help them through a crisis.
“He wouldn’t be going to England as a saviour for the defence. As much as I think he is a mature lad and can handle pressure I think that could only be a bonus for him.”
The Reds face Sunderland on Boxing day before hosting Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve with both matches coming at Old Trafford.