The largest barrier to Manchester United signing one other central defender this summer season is perhaps the difficulties they’ll face in lowering the variety of centre backs already on the books.
RB Leipzig centre again Dayot Upamecano is one choice to strengthen a defence that continues to be a piece in progress, regardless of the £80million signing of Harry Maguire final summer season.
Whereas Maguire had , if not nice, first season at Previous Trafford, there wasn’t any suggestion that his presence was going to boost performances alongside him, which suggests Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nonetheless has his eye on one other dependable central defender to fill the void subsequent to the membership captain.
However whereas United have been accumulating central defenders not too long ago – Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have all signed because the summer season of 2016 – they have not been promoting them on the similar charge.
Jonny Evans is maybe the final out-and-out central defender that United let go, promoting him to West Brom in 2015. Since then Daley Blind has been the one important departure of a participant who might play on the coronary heart of defence, with round half of his 141 United appearances coming in that function.
The dearth of gross sales has left Solskjaer with an abundance of central defensive choices, but few he actually trusts. To signal Upamecano this summer season and never be overburdened in that place United really want to promote Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, however for now all three stay United gamers.
Solskjaer would most likely contemplate Maguire, Lindelof, Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe his 4 first-choice defenders. Then there may be Teden Mengi making a case for a job as a fifth or sixth choice along with his performances at academy stage.
Add in 21-year-old Upamecano and Solskjaer would have eight senior centre backs, in addition to Mengi. The wage outlay on these gamers alone would make that unsustainable.
That is why it is perhaps that United wait a 12 months to make their transfer for Upamecano, giving them 12 months to discover a purchaser for Smalling, Jones and Rojo.
But the general public nature of the hyperlinks with Upamecano and the clear chance that he will likely be a goal subsequent summer season as nicely may need one other benefit, in placing these gamers competing to play alongside Maguire on discover.
Final season was a little bit of a misplaced season for Tuanzebe, with the accidents he suffered halting his growth, and this time period is prone to be about getting again that rhythm and confidence. It will be a shock if he emerged as Maguire’s first-choice accomplice.
However for Lindelof and Bailly the race is on and having seen their membership linked with Upamecano, they have to know time is operating out to make the place their very own.
Having suffered accidents of his personal Bailly returned to health within the second half of final season and impressed, though the impression remained that he had errors in him. However he may very well be commanding as nicely and whereas his possibilities got here in cup competitions, he’ll start this season decided to place some stress on Lindelof.
Each Bailly and Lindelof are 26 so ought to arguably be approaching their peak years as central defenders. After a troublesome first season on the membership, the Swede has improved to be an everyday decide all through his final two seasons, however there are nonetheless query marks over whether or not he has the attributes to be a title-winning first-choice centre again for United.
His partnership with Maguire is but to actually flourish and he can nonetheless look second finest bodily at occasions. Lindelof may nicely realise that is the season he has to finish the doubts over his potential to play that function each week.
United’s defensive document was a lot improved final season, however there remained too many particular person errors and unhealthy days for the defensive unit to actually persuade. Time could be operating out for the present crop of centre backs to show they’ve the reply.