Clement Lenglet linked to Manchester United by reports in France but Barcelona have been linked for a while


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has a big task on his hands this summer in order to assemble a team able to take on reigning Premier League champions Manchester City in the battle to win the league next season. United have been linked with many players already this summer with a deal for Fred being announced on Tuesday and a move for FC Porto right-back Diogo Dalot close to being completed, according to reports. United have been strongly linked with Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld and are now being linked to Sevilla’s Clement Lenglet.

The 22-year-old French defender is highly regarded as one of the best young defenders in Europe at this moment in time and has been linked with Barcelona for much of the summer. United were linked to Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti but he recently signed a new contract at the club which will keep him at the Nou Camp until the summer of 2023 with a €500 million release clause written into the new contract. It was suggested that the Catalan club would bring in Lenglet to replace Umtiti if he left the club this summer.

However, it is suggested by some that Barcelona still hold an interest in Lenglet despite Umtiti signing a new contract and are willing and able to pay his €35 million release clause from Sevilla this summer. French newspaper, L’Equipe has reported that United are now interested in the 22-year-old and his fee would work out in the region of £31 million. which is around £24 million less than the speculated transfer of Alderweireld to the Theatre of Dreams.

United are no stranger for Lenglet after playing Sevilla in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League this season, drawing 0-0 in Spain and losing at Old Trafford with the Spanish side knocking United out of the competition, which Real Madrid ended up winning, their third Champions League trophy in three years and their thirteenth in the history of the club. United had a good season when you look at their defensive statistics in the Premier League, conceding one more goal than the eventual champions, Manchester City.

Mourinho still sees the need to strengthen at the back though, which may change his style of play, especially if he trusts the defensive players to do what they need to do, something I myself am not confident from the players at the club right now. There are some who just do not fit the profile of a Manchester United defender and by that, I mean the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Gary Pallister, Jaap Stam and many others over the years.

United already have Victor Lindelof (brought in last summer), Eric Bailly (brought in during the summer of 2016), Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Chris Smalling at his disposal. Daley Blind is expected to leave the Old Trafford club this summer with Inter Milan holding an interest in the player. Some may say this is a good enough squad of players in this position, others will disagree after seeing the injuries Jones has suffered over the years and the lack of improvement from Lindelof, Rojo and more recently Bailly, who has seen himself on the periphery.

A more commanding defender is something that would work well in the squad, someone to lead from the back, as now there seems to be no leader in the squad at all, now that Michael Carrick, the club captain has retired and now occupies a position on Mourinho’s coaching team, alongside former U18 coach, Kieran McKenna in a backroom overhaul this summer. Which is something that both Mourinho and United needed to do in order to have some change, which can only be a good thing after Rui Faria left the club immediately after the Emirates FA Cup final.

Lenglet only signed for Sevilla in January 2017, spending just 18-months at the club and having around three years left on his current contract. There is a release clause written into his contract with is just shy of £31 million, a good deal in the current market, especially when you factor in the fact that Bailly and Lindelof cost around the same amount over the last two summer transfer windows. This is a fee that United would not struggle with, considering they had been reported as willing to spend £50 million plus on Alderweireld if they could strike a deal with Spurs.

During the past season, Lenglet made 51 appearances for his club in all competition, playing more than 3,000 minutes in La Liga alone. He scored four goals, also assisting another. His passing averaged at around 85%, which is something United would benefit from, something they are also good at based on their own statistics. Defensively, Lenglet averages (per 90 minutes) 1.9 tackles, 1.2 interceptions, 1.5 fouls, 4.1 clearances and 0.8 blocks.

Offensively, the 22-year-old Frenchman does not offer much, as would be expected but it is still admirable for a defensive-minded player. Over the past season, he averaged (per 90 minutes) 0.5 shots on goal, 0.2 key passes, 0.3 dribbles, also scoring three goals and assisting a further goal. The majority of his appearances were as a starter, making two substitute appearances in all competitions. Lenglet is described as having strengths in for form of tacking, which will be good at the back, also his concentration, also an upgrade for some in the squad.

United may need to move quickly if they are interested in Clement Lenglet as Barcelona seem really interested in signing him this summer. United may not be all that interested in the 22-year-old as he may not fit the bill as the experienced leader at the back the club has been crying out for, but for £31 million he would be a great buy if he reached his potential. Alderweireld would be my first choice this summer, but if another player, other than Blind was to leave this summer, Lenglet would be a good player to factor into the club.

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