Manchester United do not appear to have targeted a centre-back at all in this summer’s transfer window, according to ‘intermediaries’.
The Athletic claims to have spoken to ‘several intermediaries’ involved on the transfer market who ‘said they were stunned to be knocked back by United when suggesting central defensive options towards the end of the window.’
‘Some intermediaries were left with the impression United did not target a centre-back at all this summer, while others say United did in fact pursue the possibility,’ reporter Laurie Whitwell notes.
‘Most observers felt a centre-half would be required to elevate Solskjaer’s side to the next level.
‘A centre-back is instead viewed as the priority for the summer of 2021.’
It is an inexplicable decision that could cause dire consequences to United’s campaign this season.
First choice centre-back pairing, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, conceded five goals in United’s first two games against Crystal Palace and Brighton this season before Lindelof was replaced by Eric Bailly for the disastrous 6-1 home defeat to Spurs.
Another issue around the centre-backs at United is their susceptibility to injury. Bailly has missed 362 days due to injury since he joined in 2015 and appeared to be injured again yesterday while on international duty for the Ivory Coast, although he has taken to Instagram since to claim he was only tired.
Rojo, meanwhile, has missed 653 days through injury since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon in 2014 and Jones has not fared much better, missing 465 days in the same period and 697 overall in his United career.
Tuanzebe has also kept the physios busy, missing 97 days in 2017 while on loan at Aston Villa and 160 days since he returned to Old Trafford.
As for who United might target next summer, Red Bull Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano is reported to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first choice, although ‘Upamecano, however, will only give consideration to a move to United if the club is competing in the Champions League,’ Whitwell claims.
The reporter also believes Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is a possibility, but he again would have the same Champions League stipulation.
The fact is with the current centre-back resources at United’s disposal, that Champions League qualification could prove very difficult to achieve.
United fans might also be wondering what has become of the club’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, and a right-winger in general, if the centre-back position has already been earmarked as next summer’s priority.
This summer’s transfer window has been one of the strangest in living memory. So cast your mind back to less stressful days and test your knowledge of past United arrivals and departures in our quiz below.