It is no secret that Erik ten Hag prefers a left footed centre back to play alongside a right-footed one and in the present squad, only Lisandro Martinez fits that bill.
Such is his belief in the importance of the left centre back also being a left footer that he has retrained Luke Shaw to play in the role several times this season when Lisandro was unavailable.
With Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe all looking likely to follow Phil Jones out of the club this summer, the Red Devils are likely to be down from seven recognised centre backs to just three – Raphael Varane, Lisandro and Victor Lindelof.
With Varane and Lindelof both right footers, it seems logical that Ten Hag would be seeking a lefty to strengthen and one high calibre name who fits that profile is Sporting Lisbon’s Gonçalo Inacio.
Strongly tipped to be joining Liverpool, Inacio has been one of the stand out defensive stars of the Liga Portuguesa this season and according to the reliable O Jogo, United are also upping their interest in the 21 year old.
The outlet (via Sport Witness) notes that the Old Trafford outfit “had scouts in attendance” at Sporting’s match agains Vizela last night to watch the centre back.
They will have been impressed by his performance, which included a well-taken goal.
Gonçalo Inacio scores off a corner as Sporting levels up 1-1. Interestingly he is playing as a RCB in a back 3 for Amorim than the usual LCB in a back 3. Her is versatile. LFC understood to be in talks with Sporting. pic.twitter.com/3K4K72vTbD
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) May 26, 2023
The outlet also reports that United “have been watching the 21-year-old ‘for a long time’.”
As Sport Witness points out, the links seem to have come out of nowhere, especially given the strength of reports linking United with a move for Napoli’s Kim Min-jae, who similarly has been one of his own league’s top performers this season.
If indeed four centre backs do leave, there could be room for both a left footer and a right footer this summer, although it seems unlikely.
Of course, Inacio might be a backup option in case the pursuit of Kim is unsuccessful.
He also comes in at a slightly better price point should the budget be stretched.
Kim’s July release clause stands at around €55 million whereas Sporting are reported to be asking a negotiable €45 million for their star.
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