A golden opportunity for Manchester United to solve their defensive crisis has a 48 hour window.
United’s defence is undergoing radical alterations, some forced and some unforced.
Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe already left the club in June and Eric Bailly has been made available for a free transfer.
Harry Maguire has also come close to leaving and may still do so if the right offer comes along.
Tyrell Malacia picked up an impact injury that ruled him out of the entire pre-season and he is weeks away from a return. He has now been joined by Luke Shaw, whose own leg injury could rule him out for months.
When Maguire looked to be out of the door, United reportedly had an ideal replacement lined up in World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard.
However, the collapse of the England man’s West Ham switch meant United cooled their interest in the Bayern star, whom Inter Milan then swooped in to grab.
Despite Inter and Bayern having agreed a €30 million fee (€8 million less than United’s reported offer) and the player being desperate to join the Serie A side, the German club have been dragging their heels over the deal as they search for a replacement.
Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel (via Fabrizio Romano) has said:
“Pavard has asked for a move, but we really appreciate him — there must be a replacement. The request came to me very late, which surprised me a bit, we have to think of the interests of our club. As of now, I’ll continue to work with him.”
This has provided United with a chance to come back in for a world class player who is available for a cut-down price.
Although Pavard plays on the right side of the defence and the injury crisis is on the left, his arrival would facilitate both Lisandro Martinez and Diogo Dalot covering for Shaw and Malacia.
The Italian press have been getting worried about Bayern’s procrastination but now believe that a replacement has been identified in Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah and that Pavard will be allowed to complete the transfer.
Gazzetta dello Sport (today’s paper edition, page 10) reports that it is “a situation now close to the conclusion that all the parties involved are hoping for. Monday should be the day for the French defender to land in Milan.”
This gives United just 48 hours to re-enter the race and sign a player who would not just be a temporary fix, but who would be a quality permanent addition to the squad.
So far, there is no sign that will happen, with rumours yesterday circulating that they are planning to take on free agent Ryan Bertrand, 34.
Fans may wonder how on earth their side are expected to compete in the Premier League and Champions League with this level of ambition.
Excuses have been made about Financial Fair Play rules and an exhausted transfer budget that means sales have to be made before new players can be brought in. But in reality, the club has to the end of the season to balance the books, so these reasons do not stack up.
Whether it is Pavard or OGC Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo, United have to find the few million necessary to properly shore up their back line this summer, and the clock is ticking fast and loud.