Manchester United are looking to sign a centre back on the proviso that they can offload one of the six they currently have on the books.
On the evidence of last season’s abysmal defensive display, that centre back will need to be able to stake a claim for a starting spot and in this three-part series, we will look at three options who have been linked with the club.
The People’s Person previously argued that Lisandro Martinez makes more sense for United as a Summer 2022 signing than Jurrien Timber, with a large reason being that the current squad does not possess a single left-footed option in the heart of defence.
As such, this series will look at the three left-footed central defenders who have been most prominently rumoured to be on the radar of new boss Erik ten Hag.
Along with a few insights and observations, we will be using statistics obtained from Squawka (who use Opta data to compare players across the big seven European Leagues) to see how the transfer targets stack up against one another, starting in Part One with Pau Torres.
The Villareal man certainly has the look of an elegant defender, confident in playing out from the back and at ease under pressure.
The 25-year-old Spaniard has been watched by Manchester United for a number of years now, and his performances in Villareal’s unlikely run to the Champions League semi-final will have done nothing to quash the club’s interest.
Looking at his La Liga statistics will only pique it further, with Torres completing 0.8 take-ons per 90’ at an incredible success rate of 89.29%
This is a player who is neither afraid of a dribble, nor anything other than top class at it among defenders. For reference, he completed four times as many dribbles per 90’ than Harry Maguire – known to enjoy a foray upfield – managed last season, and with a considerably higher rate of success.
Defensively, Pau Torres is a master at covering space, with a success rate of 71.57% in his ground duels and 6.1 ball recoveries per game last season.
Those numbers don’t just dwarf those of every Manchester United centre back last season, they are also considerably better than those of Raphael Varane’s last season for Real Madrid.
Where Torres does struggle, however, is in his aerial game.
Despite standing at 6’2” he succeeded in just 59.79% of his aerial duels last campaign – worse than Victor Lindelof at United.
In fact, it’s even worse than Sevilla defender Jules Kounde in the same division, who stands five inches shorter than Torres.
This only goes to demonstrates that height is not the “be-all, end-all” when fighting for headers, and in Part Two, we will take a look at another target who shows just that.