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Five central defenders Manchester United should be seeking to sign this summer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to sign a central defender at the club this summer after the defence did not perform to the best of their abilities, despite recovering from conceding 54 goals in the Premier League alone during the 2018/19 season, and conceding just 36 goals in the 2019/20 season, becoming the third best defence in the league – conceding one goal more than Manchester City and three more than reigning champions Liverpool.

It has been suggested that United will be seeking to sign a winger, a central midfielder and a defender this summer. Lots of names have been linked to the club this summer. On Monday, I published an article which talked about five other options for the right-wing position other than Jadon Sancho, which seemed to be well received. This articles will talk about five different defenders that could be good for United sign this summer. Some of them have been linked to the club already, some have not.

Here are five options that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could pursue to actually sign a central defender this summer…

Dayot Upamecano, 21, RB Leipzig (right-footed)

The 21-year-old Frenchman has been linked to United already this summer and was targeted by the club whilst still a teenager with United not actually ending up signing the player. Granted, he is not left-footed but he would be an upgrade to United’s defence. Upamecano plays in a similar position as Maguire at United, on the left side of the central defence, despite being right-footed. His attributes tick all the boxes though and him signing for United would start to address some problems.

Contracted until the summer of 2023, the 21-year-old will be on the transfer wish lists of many clubs around Europe. He signed his last contract extension at he end of July 2020. During the course of the 2019/20 season, which saw RB Leipzig reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, defeated 3-0 by finalists Paris Saint-Germain, Upamecano made a total of 38 appearances for his club, scoring no goals and adding two assists. He can play in either central defensive position, also as a defensive midfielder, although he did not play in that position during the course of the season.

Pau Torres, 23, Villarreal (left-footed)

The Spaniard is one of the most sought-after players in Europe this summer and has already been linked to United. With Solskjaer seemingly seeking a left-footed defender this summer, having been linked to Nathan Ake and Gabriel Magalhaes. Torres is described as a textbook Spanish defender with good distribution, is comfortable on the ball and gets involved in buildup play. Torres has also been likened to former United and current Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique.

Torres is contracted until the summer of 2024, signing his last contract in October 2019. During the course of the 2019/20 season, the 23-year-old made a total of 36 appearances for his club, scoring two goals and two assists. The player could be available for less than £50 million this summer, which would be a big investment for United but they would be getting a defender who could quickly become a competent defender at the club and a player that could help United lift trophies.

Alessio Romagnoli, 25, AC Milan (left-footed)

The Italian is the oldest player in this article but at 25 still has a lot to do in the game. His is the captain of Milan and his leadership, at the back, would be a great addition for United. Romagnoli is aggressive, commanding and authoritative and has an excellent passing range and is often looking to break down the opposition by breaking down passes and distributing the ball forwards to put his team on the attack. This type of player could work well alongside Harry Maguire at United.

His current contract will expire in the summer of 2022, signing his last contract in the summer of 2018. There is a chance his club will be sitting down with him to renew his contract, but that could be something United could thwart if they had interest in the player this summer. The 25-year-old can play in either central defensive position, also filling in at left-back, should he need to. During the 2019/20 season, the player made a total of 39 appearances, scoring one goal.

Dan-Axel Zagadou, 21, Borussia Dortmund (left-footed)

The Frenchman plays for Borussia Dortmund, so because of the Jadon Sancho transfer seemingly faltering, United might not want to start negotiations with this player. That said, the player does not see any reason to leave the German club this summer, despite his contract expiring in the summer of 2022. United might have many other options themselves regarding this position, and Zagadou might not even be on their list, although based on the future he could have, he should be.

That said, his injury problems could be a concern, which is unfortunate. He seems to have suffered a few knee related injuries recently, which might suggest an underlining problem for the future. During the 2019/20 season, Zagadou made a total of 22 appearances for his club, scoring one goal and one assists. He played a total of 26 minutes for his club in the final two matches of the season, returning from his latest knee injury. The played is said to be extremely strong, robust and has an aerial presence at the back, which would be good for United moving forward.

Victor Nelsson, 21, FC Copenhagen (right-footed)

The Danish youth international has a good future ahead of him. He would be considered as the wild card addition in this article purely based on how he played when United faced FC Copenhagen in the quarter final of the UEFA Europa League earlier this month. United struggled to get the better of their opposition in that first match in Germany, needing extra time and a penalty to beat them. Nelsson played well in that match and really threw himself into challenges and blocks to give his side the defensive advantage.

The 21-year-old is contracted until the summer of 2024 at his club, so they have no reason to sell but a move to United could be a good one for the player. During the 2019/20 season, Nelsson made 54 appearances for his club, not scoring a single goal but adding one assist. Mainly a central defender, Nelsson can also play in the defensive midfield position, as well as the central midfield position, although has not played in either midfield role during the course of the season.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United bid for Alessio Romagnoli rejected by AC Milan

Manchester United made a £44 million bid for AC Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli according to reports from Italy. The Old Trafford club are believed to have made an initial £39 million offer for the Italy international which included a further £5 million in add-ons. The deal was rejected ‘out of hand’ by the hierarchy of the Italian club, who may currently be under some pressure to cover the huge financial outlay they made last summer after being banned from UEFA competitions this season.

Italian news source, Corriere dello Sport made the claim, which also stated that Chelsea were interested in the 23-year-old when Antonio Conte arrived at the Stamford Bridge club two years ago, seemingly set to be sacked this summer. Chelsea failed to sign Romagnoli, settling for David Luiz instead, who made his return to the club from Paris Saint-Germain. Romagnoli signed a new four-year contract at the club last month but in this day, that could be to maximise the value of the player, who could be sold.

Despite the initial offer from United being rejected, the Old Trafford club has reportedly been encouraged that the Italian club will do business for the right price this summer. Calciomercato reported that the Milan club would do business with the Premier League contenders as no player in unsellable this summer with the club seeking to stay within the limits of Financial Fair Play, something they fell foul of with their summer spending spree last year.

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Mourinho has been heavily linked with Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld but the £70 million asking price seems to be a stumbling point, considering the player could be available for as little as £25 million next summer, unless he signs a new deal, which could be the case with interest in the player reluctantly disappearing because of the transfer fee set by the North London club. Last season, both Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly were on the sidelines for long spells because of injury and the pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling was not the best.

Alessio Romagnoli is going to be a top player in the future. The bid United have reportedly made is very low, but a club is not going to start high when bidding for a player. Obviously, the 23-year-old will be worth a lot more than this and it is to be expected that the Milan club may ask for a sum of around £70 million this summer. That seems to be the going rate for a defender ever since Liverpool shelled out £75 million for Virgil van Dijk from Southampton.

If that is what United need to pay in order to strengthen their defence this summer, that is what they will have to pay. The club has spent £61 million on both Bailly and Victor Lindelof during the last two summer transfer windows but United are still not a team that holds much defensive security. With reports that Alex Sandro has an agreement with the Old Trafford club, whether that materialises as a transfer or just more speculation, it can be suggested that Mourinho, at least, is seeking to fill the problem positions at the club.

Manchester United not fully keen on Toby Alderweireld with seven other names on the shortlist

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld this summer but talks have recently his a stalemate with United’s valuation of £55 million being towered by Spurs’ £75 million valuation of the player. In a years time, because of a clause in the player’s contract, he could leave the North London club for just £25 million, which makes anything over United’s valuation of the player to be money not spent well. Because of this, it is reported that United a list of other players to seek to sign this summer instead of the Belgian.

The Manchester Evening News has reported that United have a list of eight central defenders, with the aim of one of them being signed by Jose Mourinho’s team. Despite the headlines dominating with reports that Alderweireld is the main target, it has been suggested that United’s scouts are not 100% sure on the Belgian because of his profile, whatever that means – it could be a number of things. Despite the Spurs man being experienced in the Premier League, United seem to be looking further afield with players from the Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A on the list.

United have already commenced their business in the summer transfer window completing the signing of Diogo Dalot in a €22 million deal from FC Porto last Wednesday and a day before that announced a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk over Brazilian midfielder Fred, although he has not yet been confirmed as a United player. It has shown that United were eager to get players in ahead of the pre-season tour of the United States of America and Germany, despite some players seemingly unavailable for some or all of the tour because of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

It has been reported that United’s seven other options, other than Alderweireld are; Raphael Varane, Jerome Boateng, Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar, Alessio Romagnoli, Jose Gimenez and Caglar Soyuncu. However, it is also suggested that any of these prospective deals would be the club’s most complicated transfer this summer. Below you will find a short profile of the players which will include their age, current club, strengths, weaknesses and what I feel would be the chances of United signing the player, based on my own opinion and what is being reported in the media.

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Raphael Varane

The French international, 25, was signed by then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho for a fee of around €10 million in 2011. Varane has completed his seventh season at the La Liga club, playing a total of 233 times, scoring 10 goals. He has also played 42 times for France, scoring twice. Despite being a peripheral figure in Madrid, Varane is a player United have been linked to summer after summer. Mourinho will rate him highly, signing him seven years ago, and would obviously be interested should the player seek a future away from Real Madrid. However, Varane has won his fourth UEFA Champions League winner’s medal in five years, winning 15 major honours with the club, so to pry him from the clutches of Madrid would be difficult. Varane is a strong passer and has an immense concentration of the game, however, tackling is a problem for him at times.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 5/10

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Jerome Boateng

The 29-year-old German international has played in the Premier League before, spending the 2010/11 season at Manchester City. Costing €13.5 million that summer, after the frustration of playing predominantly at right-back, Boateng is a player that City may regret losing, based on his career after leaving the Etihad. Boateng has played 258 times for Bayern Munich, scoring eight goals in his career which started in Germany at Hertha Berlin, playing in the reserve side, then the first team before signing for Hamburger SV, before joining City. In seven seasons at Munich, Boateng has won the Bundesliga six times, in succession from the 2012/13 season onwards. He’s won 14 major honours with the Bavarian club, also winning the FA Cup at City. Internationally, Boateng has played 71 times for Germany, scoring one goal. He helped the U21 side lift the European Championships in 2009, winning the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Boateng is similar to Varane in that his passing and concentration are both strengths but tackling is seen as a weakness. The player is said to be considering his future this summer, which could mean a new challenge is on the horizon.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 6/10

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Kalidou Koulibaly

The Senegalese international is just 26 and seen as a huge prospect in the game. Born in France, playing for Metz, moving to Genk in Belgium, now playing for Napoli in Italy, Koulibaly is experienced, despite not yet playing in the Premier League. The player has been linked to United previously, albeit not all that credibly. The player has completed his fourth season in Italy, playing a total of 164 times for Napoli, scoring eight goals. He has won two major honours in his career; the Belgian Cup with Genk in the 2012/13 season and the Supercoppa Italiana with Napoli in 2014. Koulibaly is 6ft 5in, physically strong, recognised for his aerial prowess, passing ability, and versatility. Koulibaly would be my first choice after Alderweireld to come to United. The African Cup of Nations would normally be a problem bringing African players to the Premier League but as the tournament has been switched from January/February to June/July from 2019, it is no longer an issue that United would lose players at an important part of the season. His reported price tag, if true, could be a problem.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 5/10

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Milan Skriniar

The 23-year-old Slovakian has been linked to United previously and it was reported recently that both United and City made a £53 million bid for the Inter Milan player, both of which were turned down. After a sensational season at the San Siro, helping his team return to the UEFA Champions League, beating Lazio on the final day of the season, it would see the club want to retain the player, or at least sell him for a large fee if they have to. United has been unsuccessful when dealing with Inter, seeking to sign Ivan Perisic from the club last summer, which did not materialise. Unless a record bid is received by Inter, I doubt Skriniar will be leaving the club. He is a good prospect, one for now and the future, and one which many of Europe’s biggest clubs have been watching. He’s played 40 matches for Inter, scoring four goals so far, also playing 18 times for his country. Skriniar is a strong passer and a player whose concentration is impeccable. A real asset for any club and so far, only Inter can be the victors, whether it be by keeping the Slovakian or selling him for a huge profit from the €20 million paid to Sampdoria last summer.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 3/10

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Alessio Romagnoli

The 23-year-old AC Milan defender may not be as experienced as other players in this article, but he is one that other clubs have been linked with already this year. Coming through the youth ranks at Roma, Romagnoli has completed the sixth season of his career so far. He has played 111 times for Milan, scoring five goals. He was linked to United, Chelsea, and Barcelona in February with Milan seemingly likely to offer him a new contract to deter all three clubs from being able to make a deal to sign the player. Barcelona seem to be out of the action with Samuel Umtiti signing a new contract and Clement Lenglet on their radar. Romagnoli is strong at holding on to the ball, passing, aerial duels and concentration, however, his weaknesses include; crossing, discipline, and tackling. He could compliment a player who has discipline and tackling though, so that is not to put anyone off the player. He is highly rated in Italy and has played seven times for his country.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 5/10

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Jose Gimenez

The 23-year-old Uruguayan currently plays for Atletico Madrid since signing for them for a €900,000 fee in 2013. Gimenez has been linked to United many times, the last in November 2017 when it was suggested that the player had been given the all clear to make the move, seemingly rejecting United, according to the media. We see stories like that all the time, there is nothing to suggest the player rejected United, or that United made a move to sign the player. Gimenez has played 113 times for Atletico, scoring six goals. He is experienced in the fact this was his sixth season as a first team player. He has also been a mainstay in the Uruguay national side, playing 42 times, scoring five goals. Gimenez has won three major honours at Atletico, winning La Liga in the 2013/14 season, lifting the Supercopa de España in 2014 and winning the UEFA Europa League last season. He is also a runner-up twice in the UEFA Champions League, losing to Real Madrid both times. The player has two years remaining on his current contract.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 5/10

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Caglar Soyuncu

The 22-year-old Turkish defender has been strongly linked to Arsenal this summer with the media adding United recently. Turkish Football wrote about the player in February, suggesting three reasons as to why he could be a success at United, so there must have been some interest in the past for the young international. Soyuncu started his career at Altınordu in Turkey and was linked to Besiktas, Galatasaray, and Sevilla before moving to Freiburg. He has been linked to Lille, Roma, Villarreal, Manchester City and Arsenal since playing in the Bundesliga. Soyuncu has played for Turkey at U18, U19, U20, and U21 international level, also playing 15 times for the senior side. After two seasons in the Bundesliga, playing 55 matches and scoring one goal, this summer could be a big one for the young Turkish player. Soyuncu possesses leadership qualities, something United may be interested in, is a good playmaker, dribbler, also being strong in the air. He is a strong defender, a player that admires Jose Mourinho and despite being 22, has experience and longevity in the game. Not all the best players in the world play for big teams.

Likelihood of completing this signing: 6/10

copyright: JW