Premier League 2018-19: 3 reasons why Manchester United should sign Kalidou Koulibaly in January
With the January transfer window now open and a new manager at the helm in the form of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United look ready to flex their financial muscles again.
It’s pretty clear where United need to improve – at the back – and it’s no surprise that one player they’ve been heavily linked with recently is Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Reports suggest that Koulibaly might cost upwards of £100m, meaning it’s a bit of a question mark as to whether United would be willing to spend such money in January. But here are 3 reasons why they should.
#1 Their current defenders simply aren’t good enough
Despite United having climbed back up to 6th place in the Premier League following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho, it’s pretty clear where their weak point is. They might’ve netted 12 goals in 3 games under Solskjaer, but they’ve still failed to keep a clean sheet despite facing relatively weak opponents.
In fact, United have kept just 2 clean sheets in the league thus far in 2018-19 - in a September victory over Burnley, and in their November goalless draw with Crystal Palace. And they’ve conceded 32 goals – more than any of their rivals in the top 6, and double the amount that Chelsea and Manchester City have leaked. Even Brighton, Palace and Newcastle, who sit 13th, 14th and 15th respectively, have conceded less.
Part of this stems from an unsettled defence, as Mourinho used wild combinations of players at the back – including deploying midfielders like Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic as defenders. But the bottom line is that it all comes back to a simple fact: the current foursome of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof just aren’t good enough to marshal the defence of a side challenging for the title.
Koulibaly on the other hand clearly is good enough. In action for Napoli in Serie A, he’s already been involved in 8 clean sheets this season, and averages more tackles, blocks, interceptions and clearances per game than Lindelof, who has been United’s most used defender thus far.
Essentially, he’s a massive upgrade on who the Red Devils currently have. And they’ve only got to look at Liverpool’s progress since signing Virgil van Dijk to see the difference a single player can make.