5 centre-back options that Manchester United should look at in the summer
A look at five replacements for either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones in Manchester United's defence.
With Manchester United undergoing a transition period under Jose Mourinho, there will be scrutiny in looking at every position coming into the summer. One position, and two players, in which appear to have gone stale are Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The region of centre back has been a hot topic of debate this season, with fans preaching that the two England internationals are not good enough to be starting. A fair assessment, given some of the routine mistakes they make.
Mourinho brought in Eric Bailly from Villarreal last summer, who has excelled but unfortunately had to leave for a month for the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast. That departure has halted his progress and he has not reached the same form as he did in his first few months as a United player.
The Portuguese boss has shown to be ruthless, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, three of Louis Van Gaal’s signings, all moved on - freeing up £340,000 per week in wages. Wayne Rooney also looks set to be leaving Old Trafford this season.
There has been a number of calamities in defence for the Red Devils this season, with Smalling the main cause. On the other hand, the problem that fans have with Jones is that he cannot sustain a period of time without being injured.
And just like clockwork, Jones was sent home from the England camp in Germany this week due to injury - suspected to have been caused by Smalling - and will face up to a month on the sidelines.
Here are five replacements for either centre back - or even both:
#1 Jose Gimenez – Atletico Madrid
The Atletico Madrid central defender has been routinely scouted by many of the European heavyweights for a number of years now. At 22-years-old, the Uruguayan international has become a mainstay in the heart of Diego Simeone’s team through their successes over the past few years.
This season, Gimenez has been involved in 13 clean sheets from a possible 19 matches. For any defender in the world, that is an outstanding record. Although Manchester United could do with an experienced centre back, playing 80 times since the 2014 World Cup is no small achievement.
Gimenez would bring exuberance and skill to the position at Manchester United, with Mourinho liking ball-playing central defenders. He has also shown that he can be a threat in the air and can cover the ground quickly.
Estimated fee: £40m (£58.7m buy-out clause)