Manchester United more likely to sign Faouzi Ghoulam over Manchester City this summer

Manchester United have emerged as the favourites to sign Faouzi Ghoulam from Napoli this summer, according to reports. It has been said before that both United and Manchester City would battle for the left-back this summer after he had attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League. The 27-year-old suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the campaign after a good start for his club.

City made their interest in Ghoulam known last summer and were wanting to do a deal a year ago, despite signing Benjamin Mendy. The Algerian has not played for his club since November 2017 when he suffered a knee ligament tear then, on his return to training, he broke his kneecap in February 2018. Il Mattino in Italy state that United were going to enter the race to sign Ghoulam in the coming two months.

United manager Jose Mourinho has been aware that he needs to sign a new left-back at the club this summer, ruling Luke Shaw out of a chance to earn a place with Ashley Young a player who has become the main left-back this season, despite Shaw impressing at times, not consistently though. Of course, it is possible that Young will return to a more attacking role next season with Shaw and a new left-back challenging each other, which will bring out the best of both – if he remains at United.

United have also held an interest in Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose, also Juventus left-back Alex Sandro, who has not been called up for Brazil’s World Cup squad this summer. It is said Rose would cost around £50 million, Ghoulam would be a bit less, around £44 million. Sandro, who is reportedly close to signing for United, according to some sources, would probably cost a big fee too, but United do need the experience and defensive ability in this position ahead of the new season.

Ghoulam is said to have everything Mourinho will require from his left-back, his energetic displays up and down the flank, his defensive ability and his ability to attack, which is what a left-sided player would need to do. Manchester City may still be interested in Ghoulam with Benjamin Mendy spending the majority of the season on the sidelines and Pep Guardiola having a makeshift left-back in Fabian Delph, it could see the Premier League champions swoop for Ghoulam this summer.

Napoli will be preparing to see many of their best players leave the club this summer after falling short in their Serie A campaign with manager Maurizio Sarri also a target for Chelsea as they bid to replace Antonio Conte, two years after his arrival in London where he was suggested to be better than both Mourinho and Guardiola, winning the Premier League in his debut season, but losing is massively this season, even falling short for a UEFA Champions League place.

I would prefer Luke Shaw to do what he needs to do to become a player that will be a stalwart at the Old Trafford club but the criticism from Mauricio Pochettino, Roy Hodgson, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho suggests the problems that Shaw faces are not the fault of anyone other than himself. He is a talent and was tipped to be the left-back at United and for England for a generation. Missing the FIFA World Cup this summer could be something which inspires him to do better, as could a change of scenery. It is a shame though.

Faouzi Ghoulam linked to Manchester United; could he be the answer at left-back or some experience to guide Luke Shaw?

Manchester United have been linked to many players already and the season has more than a month left to go before it is over, and the ‘silly season’ will get much worse. It has been reported that Jose Mourinho is seeking a new right-back, left-back, central defender and midfielders to replace Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini. Many players which United have been linked with over the past few years are starting to be linked again. Some may suggest this means the club want these players, others will suggest the media know nothing and are clutching at straws.

Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam is now reportedly on United’s radar, despite many journalists suggesting that Juventus’ Brazilian left-back, Alex Sandro was a player the Old Trafford club were seriously interested in. The reports, which come from France, state that United are willing to pay £26 million for the Algerian fullback this summer. Ghoulam has become one of the top defenders in Serie A, playing for the club from Naples for five years now. He suffered a cruciate ligament injury earlier this season, also beat Riyad Mahrez to the Algerian Player of the Year award for 2017.

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The Algerian was a target for Manchester City before his injury but with Benjamin Mendy close to recovery after spending much of the season on the sidelines through injury, the Premier League champions-elect may not make a move for the player. Ghoulam signed a new contract in December and it is suggested that there is a £52 million release clause as part of it, which has not actually been confirmed. If that is true, the reports of signing the player for £26 million would seem unlikely.

United are suggested to be leading the race for Ghoulam, who could replace Luke Shaw at the club. The former England left-back has been criticised a few times this season, not actually stepping forward during his four years at the Old Trafford club. Many still talk of his potential, which is still there, despite the fact he has failed to become the player many thought he would become. It has been suggested that Mourinho has been bullying Shaw, which is a pretty pathetic and biased opinion – the manager has told him to become better, which is something that doesn’t seem to happen.

Personally, I don’t think Ghoulam is the answer, especially if he is going to cost £52 million if that release clause is part of the contract he signed around four months ago. Alex Sandro, if his signing is achievable which is something I doubt too, would be a much better option and he would cost a bit more than Ghoulam. I would like to see Shaw come through and prove himself but recently Ashley Young has been a much better option and will probably start against Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday evening.

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This season, Ghoulam made 15 appearances for Napoli in all competitions before suffering an injury, scoring twice and assisting three further goals. It looked like it could have been a great start for him, which could have continued if it was not for a cruciate ligament injury. In just 1,288 minutes of football, Ghoulam averaged 0.9 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 1.1 clearances, and 0.2 blocks in the defensive aspect of each game. Offensively, Ghoulam averaged 0.9 shots, 2.1 key passes, and 0.9 dribbles per match, being fouled on average 0.9 times per game.

Ghoulam has many strengths, which include; crossing, holding onto the ball, passing, his eye for a key pass, aerial duels and taking set-pieces. His main weakness is his ability to tackle, which may or may not be important in Mourinho’s plans if he is a target for United this summer. The Algerian’s style of play includes his fondness to play short passes along with playing a cross into attacking areas, which is something United would benefit from.

At 27, Ghoulam may not be a long-term option but in terms of helping Shaw develop, which could be a reason for the interest, he could be a good signing for United this summer. The same could be said for any experienced left-back though, as Luke Shaw is the only recognised left-back at United, which is great but who does he learn from? When Sir Alex Ferguson brought Alexander Büttner to the club, he was tipped to be the long-term replacement for Patrice Evra, with the Frenchman still at the club to assist him. Since Evra left, United have had no experience in this position.

Manchester United linked to Napoli defender – how rumours spread without any fact-finding…

Manchester United have today been linked to a new player. Faouzi Ghoulam, an Algerian left-back who currently plays for Napoli, the Serie A leaders in Italy. Napoli are said to be signing Alex Grimaldo in a £27 million switch from Benfica, a player who United had been credited an interest with, which apparently leaves Ghoulam free to leave the Stadio San Paolo. There are a few problems with the article The Sun have published which misses a key fact on Ghoulam which would suggest the reports of United and Jose Mourinho swooping in for the player would be unlikely.

Ghoulam is currently injured after he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in the UEFA Champions League match against Manchester City in Naples where the Italian club lost 4-2. The Algerian-born left-back was replaced in the 30th minute of the match and has not played a part in any matches for his club since. Transfermarkt state on the player’s profile page that he is expected to be on the sidelines until the 30th April 2018, which would suggest he will not be a player looking to make a move from Italy to England this month.

Facts seem to be absent from this article, which instead is aiming to make people believe there is something to see here because Napoli seems to be bringing in a new left-back. It left me wondering why a player who literally signed a new five-year contract on the 5th December 2017, which is also stated on the players Transfermarkt profile. Napoli sold Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus for £75.3 million in the summer of 2016, the same summer Paul Pogba made the move from Juventus, so that said, there is a chance they could try and sell Ghoulam, who has a £54 million release clause.

Missing these facts from an article will probably not be something to embarrass The Sun or the writer of the article but it should suggest that rumours from the same source should be scrutinised for facts, as it is clear something has been left out here to make this transfer sound plausible. Manchester United may or may not be looking for cover at left-back. Luke Shaw has played in the position for the last few matches, playing well, at times, and has started to show the form which attracted United to make a move for the player whilst he was at Southampton.

That said, it does not mean that United will be looking to sign Ghoulam, who has had the attention of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool – all three clubs putting a possible pursuit on hold because of the player’s injury, if they were going to move for the player at all. In the run-up to and during the transfer window, there are many spurious claims made, the majority of which seem to suggest that the Old Trafford club are in pursuit for a certain player, the player then remaining at his club or moving elsewhere, which then breeds another story suggesting how United missed out.

Granted, United may have looked at Ghoulam earlier in the season, or during the 2016/17 season, which could suggest he is a player the club may retain an interest in. The injury is a big cause for concern though. United lost the services of both Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to knee injuries last season, the pair missing around seven months of football, which could be the same time period Ghoulam misses. When fit, there is no guarantee that the player will return to the form which saw United and other clubs show their interest in the player.

Ghoulam does seem to be the type of player that could succeed at United though as he seems to play some good football. In the eleven Serie A matches the player played this season, he scored two goals, maintained a passing average of 89%, a shot accuracy of 71%, which for a defensive minded player is pretty good, creating 26 chances for his teammates and averaging at least three defensive actions per match. Ghoulam received one yellow card in those eleven matches. Perhaps he could be a player to look out for, when fit, but with Shaw slowly coming good, it may not happen.

copyright: JW