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Wesley Fofana: Manchester United and Chelsea do battle for Leicester City defender

Foxes centre-back will reportedly cost €80million

by Ayantan Chowdhury

After a dismal season which saw Manchester United finish outside the Champions League places for the fifth time in the last nine seasons, new boss Erik Ten Hag is well aware of the challenges he faces as he tries to get the English giants back to the top. The defence is one area in major need of reinforcements and a host of names have been targeted by the club. A new name which has entered the ring is that of Leicester City centre-back Wesley Fofana.

The 21-year-old has impressed since his £31.5 million move to the Premier League back in 2020 and according to RMC Sport, Chelsea have also joined the hunt for the highly-rated youngster.

However, the Foxes are known to be notoriously difficult to negotiate with when it comes to parting with their top players. They have slapped a huge asking price of €80million (£68m) on the Frenchman.

The France U-21 international’s displays for Brendan Rodgers’ side have made him a fan favourite at the King Power Stadium and numerous pundits have waxed eloquently about his qualities, with some even comparing him to former United legend Rio Ferdinand and current Liverpool colossus Virgil Van Dijk.

Fofana’s height, strength and all-round physical prowess suit the Premier League to a T. Add to that his speed and awareness, and at such a young age, the Marseille-born defender possesses the skill-sets to become a bona fide star.

After making 42 appearances for the 2015-16 Premier League champions in his debut campaign, it seemed like a matter of time before one of the top clubs approached the Foxes for his signature.

However, a nasty leg injury during pre-season in 2021 meant the former Saint-Étienne player was forced to miss a large chunk of the season. Fofana ultimately made a full recovery but he had to be content with making only seven league appearances and 12 in total. Such was his quality that his return to the Foxes line-up coincided with a sharp upturn in form for Rodgers & Co.

The only potential downside with the talented defender is his injury record. The fibula fracture kept him out of competitive action for 223 days as he missed a total of 41 games. In his debut season, Fofana was out of action for a total of 44 days due to a combination of knee injury and a thigh muscle strain. During his Saint-Étienne days, a knee injury had forced him to miss 12 games as well.

But if he can keep his injury concerns aside, Fofana’s ceiling is very high and his young age means he can make the position his own for a new club for a considerable amount of time. Ten Hag is known for nurturing young talent and Fofana would fit the bill perfectly.

Chelsea’s interest in understandable, having lost their star defender Antonio Rudiger to Champions League winners Real Madrid. They are also set to lose academy product Andreas Christensen on a free.

The Red Devils are well aware of the potential pitfalls of trying to negotiate a deal with Leicester, especially if another rival is also interested in the same player. After the Harry Maguire deal, United will be keen to avoid paying a premium and getting into a direct bidding war.

According to reports, Ten Hag is interested in bringing Jurrien Timber from his previous employers. However, in a World Cup year, that deal might become complicated especially with the Dutch national team coach Louis Van Gaal also sharing his skepticism regarding the move. Fofana would be the perfect alternative if United can negotiate a much cheaper price.


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