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Manchester United continuing to monitor António Silva

by Darragh Fox

Manchester United are keen to add a central defender to their squad before the summer transfer window closes, with the future of Harry Maguire increasingly uncertain.

Benjamin Pavard has been the player most strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford but Bayern Munich’s asking price is said to have “surprised” United officials.

Pavard offers an alluring tactical flexibility, capable of playing at centre-back or right-back to a proficient level.

With the continued doubts over Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Diogo Dalot as the starting fullback, and the persistent injury concerns of Raphaël Varane, a World Cup and Champions League-winning defender who is comfortable in either role would be a welcome addition for Erik ten Hag.

Bayern’s reluctance to sell, however, following the failed pursuit of Kyle Walker, may make this transfer an increasingly improbable one.

Alternatives to Pavard:

As such, United are said to be keeping tabs on a cohort of other defenders who they may pursue as alternatives.

90min suggests Jean-Clair Todibo, Perr Schuurs, Jarrad Branthwaite and Edmond Tapsoba are all centre-halves being “considered” by Old Trafford officials, who appear more concerned with a replacement for Harry Maguire than a potential upgrade at right-back.

Another name on this list, however, is António Silva; the young centre-back at the heart of a talented Benfica team.

António Silva (CB):

Silva is a mere 19 years of age but has already firmly established himself as a regular at the Portuguese giants. Having joined the club in 2016, he has progressed through the ranks and made his debut for the first-team at the beginning of last season. Silva would win the Liga Portugal’s Defender of the Month award four weeks later, becoming a mainstay in the team ever since.

He helped Benfica to win the title by two points last season, conceding the fewest goals in the league in the process. A debut for the Portuguese national team accompanied this domestic success.

Silva is a capable defender with a maturity that defies his age. He is also a quintessential modern defender, capable of playing out confidently from the back. Ranking in the 98th percentile for pass completion, Silva also ranks in the 82nd for progressive passes and 83rd for progressive carries.

Felipe Coelho, an experienced youth coach who spent 16 seasons at Benfica, believes this ability – to progress the ball in the face of pressure – is Silva’s best attribute:

“You think you are closing the spaces and he finds another solution – normally a better solution than the coach. He is very good with short passes or even breaking that line of pressure in a long way.”

Given the fundamental importance Ten Hag places on this quality, it is little surprise United scouts are being instructed to continue monitoring Silva.

With a release clause of €100m, however, a move for the defender would be a surprising one at present, though 90min suggests United are “considering” it, perhaps as a longer-term option.

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