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Hellas Verona defender being chased by Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs

Manchester United and Chelsea have been joined by Tottenham Hotspur in the race to sign Hellas Verona central defender Marash Kumbulla, according to The Sun. The 20-year-old Albanian international is described as a hot property this summer based on his dominant performances during the 2019/20 season. The defender has already been linked to Inter Milan, Napoli and Lazio before the Premier League trio were said to be interested. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a central defender this summer, amongst other signings that the club will need to move forward.

During the 2019/20 season, Kumbulla made a total of 26 appearances for his club, scoring one goal and no assists – also being booked five times and being sent off for a second yellow card in one match. United’s interest seems to go back to March 2020 and has been brought back into the media with Spurs manager Jose Mourinho now taking an interest in the young Albanian. It is possible that United no longer see Kumbulla as a player that could fit in at United and Harry Maguire may not feature well with the Albanian after his exploits in Mykonos this summer.

Kumbulla was part of a strong Verona side before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football with the club conceding 26 goals in 25 matches but after the restart of the season after the lockdown, Verona conceded 51 goals in all 38 matches that season, which showed that their defensive form had been long lost, which is a shame. The 20-year-old suffered a bicep injury twice during the course of the season, missing a total of eight matches, which does not seem to be a big deal in all honesty.

United seem to be overstocked with central defenders at this moment in time with Chris Smalling linked with an exit to AS Roma, although nothing seems to happening too quickly there. Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones also seem to be two players who are on the fringes of the first team right now so would probably need to be moved on before United sign another defender. Looking forwards though, the likes of Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe could be the experienced members of the squad this season with Teden Mengi looking to make his own breakthrough.

It might well be that United do not need to sign a new central defender this summer with Mengi being given first team minutes, playing in the friendly defeat to Aston Villa as Villa Park on Saturday in which a solitary goal from new Villa signing Ollie Watkins. If United are interested in signing a new defender this summer and still retain interest in Kumbulla, they will have little over three weeks to make an offer and get a deal completed with the transfer window closing on Monday 5 October 2020.

It is suggested that Solskjaer is interested in signing a left-back with Sergio Reguilon and Alex Telles linked to the Old Trafford club, a right-winger, with Jadon Sancho the target that has been linked all summer, despite the fact it seems unlikely that a move will materialise with rumours suggesting that United are really to pour cold water on any move for the England winger this summer. Jack Grealish has also been linked to United for as long as I can remember with Gareth Bale being linked sparingly over the past few days.

Written by John Walker

Elseid Hysaj on Manchester United’s radar again as Jose Mourinho seeks a new fullback

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has many positions within his squad to strengthen this summer. One of those is the fullback positions. Albanian fullback Elseid Hysaj is one player linked to the Old Trafford club, although it is said that Chelsea head the pack of Premier League clubs, with Liverpool also interested in the player. The Napoli player has been courted by some of the Premier League’s best teams, along with others from Europe recently.

Sportitalia report that the player has a £43.72 million release clause, which is a huge fee for a fullback, especially in modern football. Some say the price is respectable for the 24-year-old and Chelsea, United and Liverpool seem to accept that a player of his standards will cost a large sum of money in the summer. It has also been reported that Chelsea has, on multiple occasions, met the player’s agent, which could suggest a move to Stamford Bridge could be likely.

However, last summer, it was suggested that Romelu Lukaku was Chelsea-bound, instead signing for Manchester United, with Old Trafford-bound Alvaro Morata signing for Chelsea. Hysaj is a versatile player, who seems most comfortable in the right-back position, but has shown he can fill in where needed. If Mourinho was interested in Hysaj, it would probably be to rival Antonio Valencia in the right-back role, also giving youth player Timothy Fosu-Mensah some experience to help with his development, if right-back is a position he wants to play in.

This season, Hysaj has played six times in the left-back role after the injury to Faouzi Ghoulam, who incidentally is a player that has been linked with United this summer also, although that happening so soon after his injury would probably be unlikely. With that being said, Hysaj has done well at left-back, he could be an option for Mourinho with the Portuguese manager seemingly thinking Luke Shaw’s time at United could be done. Reports in the United Kingdom link United with Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose, with Shaw moving in the other direction.

This season, Hysaj has played 41 times for his club, starting 40 of those appearances. Whilst he has not yet scored a solitary goal, he has an assist, has been booked three times, also being sent off once. The Albanian has played a total of 3,541 minutes of football; 2,765 in Serie A, 52o in the UEFA Champions League, 76 in the UEFA Europa League, and 180 in the Coppa Italia. Defensively, Hysaj averages 1.8 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 1.7 clearances, and 0.1 blocks per game, his passing stands at 61.7%.

Offensively, the Albanian averages 0.3 shots, 0.6 key passes, and 0.7 dribbles per match. He also averages 0.5 fouls (on him), is dispossessed at least once and has lost the ball through bad control 1.3 times, on average per match. Hysaj has some strengths, including his passing, ability to hold on to the ball and the level of concentration he shows in a match. His style of play includes all of his strengths, plus the fact he likes to play short and precise passes. He might become a decent Premier League player, but it remains to be seen if Mourinho likes him enough to sign him this summer.

copyright: JW