Manchester United have endured a tough 2020/21 season which resulted in them finishing second in the Premier League, reaching the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup, the semi-final of the Carabao Cup and the final of the UEFA Europa League, after exiting the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been the most present right-back in the squad over the course of the season and despite his defensive ability, in an attacking sense, he has a lot to learn. It has been suggested for some time now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been seeking a rival for Wan-Bissaka which could work in a much similar way as Alex Telles’ arrival did for Luke Shaw. If United bring in competition, the defence will be much stronger.
Kieran Trippier, 30 – Atlético Madrid and England
The 30-year-old has been linked to United for the majority of 2021 with Solskjaer seeking to bring in competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the club – in a similar vein as Alex Telles’ arrival did for the resurgence of Luke Shaw in the left-back position. Trippier might be 30 but he still has a few good years in him yet and could help Wan-Bissaka develop his attack, which needs to happen at some point. His defending it top notch but if his attacking was 50% better, he would be able to offer a lot more and United would not be predictable attacking on the left all the time. Tripper helped his team, Atlético Madrid win La Liga during the past season, which will be something he is proud of with it being his first senior trophy.
United were interested in signing Tripper in January but his FA ban for breaching betting regulations saw them park the idea of trying to bring him to the Theatre of Dreams. He will be out of contract in Madrid next summer and has plans to return to England. Atlético would receive a transfer fee for the player this summer, which for them, might be better then him leaving as a free agent. However, with the positivity already talked about, there have been some reported in Spain, covered by Mundo Deportivo which state the player has already decided to snub a move to United this summer. They are not the most reliable source so it probably needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Trippier is probably the most realistic option for the right-back position this summer.
Fabien Centonze, 25 – FC Metz
The 25-year-old has not actually been linked to United and many would have expected to see Max Aarons here instead but with Norwich City being promoted to the Premier League once again, he would probably rather stay there and be a first choice player. He is younger than Wan-Bissaka too The Frenchman has not yet been selected to represent his country but that does not mean that he could not do a job for United. Metz finished tenth in Ligue 1 last season, losing 15 matches but Centonze has been both sturdy and reliable in this position. He is contracted at Metz until the summer of 2024, so the fee for him might have an initial outlay, perhaps of £15 million tops. That is just my prediction though.
He has been linked to Marseille in the past and has stated that he wants to play European football, either in the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League, United have qualified for the former, having played in the latter at the end of the season. He clearly wants to progress his career and end up playing for his country in the FIFA World Cup – how many footballers do not want to achieve that? Centonze is a ball winner and seems to manage the basics as a defensive player. He has a strong work ethic and never wants to let his team down. He probably is not on United’s radar but has the ingredients in his locker that could get him there. He could well be one to watch for the future, maybe not for United but he could achieve something in the game.
Léo Dubois, 26 – Olympique Lyonnais and France
The 26-year-old us another player who has bot been linked to United but he would be another player to add value to the squad if Trippier does not end up signing for United. He has seven caps for France and is part of the Euro 2020 squad this summer, so there could be some eye on him. He is contract at Olympique Lyonnais until the summer of 2024 and would probably command a fee in the region of £25 million, maybe more. Dubois is a modern fullback and over the past year has earned his place in the France squad, also showing himself as one of the best fullbacks in Ligue 1. He is more attack minded, which is what United require and is a bit younger than Trippier. He has a penchant for whipping crosses into the box, which Wan-Bissaka could to with learning.
His passing accuracy is good and his defensive work rate is at a high level, so there is a player here that could do some good for United and help bring out the best of Wan-Bissaka or at least give United a different dimension in attack on the right, rather than the club being predictable by attacking on the left time and time again. Whether he wants Premier League football remains to be seen but there are many footballers out there that would see that as a rise in their career. The Euro’s this summer will have many players to keep an eye out for and Dubois will be one of those players. A good performance could well increase any fee paid for the player, which would be good for his club, if they do want to sell him this summer.
Achraf Hakimi, 22 – Inter Milan and Morocco
The 22-year-old was a Real Madrid player on loan at Borussia Dortmund during the 2019/20 season but left the Spanish club for Inter Milan last summer in a €40 million deal. The Madrid club would have rather kept hold of him but he got his own way. Now they have an agreement in place with David Alaba, they probably won’t look back, for now. Hakimi could leave Inter Milan this summer with the club in financial difficulty after being unable to pay for players they signed in the past few seasons, Romelu Lukaku being one of those with United still owed £43.6 million so a deal could be done for a player of a similar of higher value so the club do not have to stump up that kind of money this summer. It is a silly position to put the club into, even without the coronavirus.
Has mainly played in the wing-back position this season, which will see him play a lot further forward so once again he could be something that United need, an opposite to Wan-Bissaka in the position which could see him offer more on the right flank going forward. That said, if United signed an experienced right-winger, Wan-Bissaka would not need to drift so far forward with the balance in the team a lot better than it currently is. Chelsea retain interest in the Moroccan ahead of the transfer window opening and that could lead to them being ahead of United, having held interested in the player for a while now. His is contracted at the Italian club until the summer of 2025 – this summer there will be a new manager at the club, so things could change.
Written by John Walker