2 defenders Manchester United should target in the January transfer window
Alderweireld could bring some experience to the United backline
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to Manchester United has a put a smile on fans' faces again. Old Trafford looks a happy place. However, the damage inflicted by his predecessor is so severe that United are in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for next season.
The constant rumours of unrest in the dressing room eventually played a massive part in Jose Mourinho’s sacking. The Red Devils returned to winning ways at Cardiff last Saturday, but that win only papers over the cracks. Manchester United do need to invest on new players this January after enduring a terrible summer transfer window last time out.
The new United caretaker boss made it clear during his first official press conference that he will have an input on any transfers this January. United have conceded an incredible 30 league goals this season. Only Fulham, Burnley, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Southampton have conceded more. Their reluctance to sign a centre back during the summer left Mourinho fuming, and United’s CEO Ed Woodward will not want a repeat of the same.
Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones are among those players entering the final six months of their contract. That means that these three United defenders could be free to start negotiations with a new club as early as January. Chris Smalling has already been tied down to a new contract. There are talks that Eric Bailly could be sold next summer to AC Milan.
So, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being in a temporary position, Ed Woodward will be cautious not to overspend this January, or making panic buys, especially if they have lined up Mauricio Pochettino as the man to take over next summer.
The Daily Mirror are reporting that Solskjaer will have £50m to spend on players in January. United’s primary objective is to buy a new centre back, and January has proven to be a quiet month for the the Reds in the past.
Here, we analyse which defenders are realistic targets for Manchester United to buy in January.
#1. Toby Alderweireld
Value: £40 – £50m
Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld is probably the best centre back in the league, along with Van Dijk. The towering Belgian is entering the final six months of his contract, but Spurs have an option to extend it, with a £25m release clause.
Woodward passed up on the opportunity to sanction his acquisition last summer, but he will be very keen to buy him this time. Daniel Levy, the notorious Tottenham negotiator, will likely demand a fee close in the region of £50m, rather than lose him on a free.
If United were to buy Alderweireld, there is the possibility of a reunion with his manager Mauricio Pochettino at Old Trafford next summer, although this is a far-fetched notion.
#2. Kalidou Koulibaly
The Senegalese international is undoubtedly the best defender in Serie A. He was part of the Napoli team that attained a remarkable 91 points in Serie A last season and finished runners-up to Juventus.
Koulibaly is a giant of a defender with incredible pace and agility. Any deal with Napoli for him would be nearly impossible to be struck. The Italian club revealed that they had rejected a bid in the region of £95m before Jose Mourinho was sacked.
However, Aurelio de Laurentiis, the Napoli chairman, has previously expressed his interest in Manchester United fullback Matteo Darmian, and United could use him as bait to tempt Napoli.
Koulibaly’s signature would take an astronomical offer for a defender in the region of £100m as reported by several Italian outlets, but Napoli could lower the fee in the event that they get the Italian fullback in return.
Of course, United are unlikely to attempt to sign both Koulibaly and Alderweireld, but one of them will definitely improve their defensive line.