Manchester United are currently preparing to make a move for Sporting defender, Goncalo Inacio, in January according to a report.
Steve Brenner (The Sun) reveals Old Trafford officials have sent a scout to Lisbon to “closely monitor” the centre-back over the next few months ahead of “launching a bid” in January.
The Portuguese defender is the quintessential modern defender – as capable with the ball as without.
Possessing a 6’1 frame, Inacio is an accomplished centre-half who is strong in the challenge and possesses good anticipation skills.
Operating primarily from the left centre-back position with a wand of a left foot, the Sporting man is excellent at progressing the ball from deep, through either incisive passing or proficient dribbling.
He ranks in the 99th percentile for attempted and progressive passes, completing 89.7% of these (an impressive figure considering how often Inacio attempts ambitious balls).
He also ranks in the 97th percentile for progressive carries and 95th percentile for successful take-ons, while clocking in the 98th for assists and 99th for shot-creating actions.
Put simply, Inacio is a demon with the ball at his feet. The exact profile of defender Erik ten Hag prefers.
He has not exclusively played on the left, however, often featuring for Sporting on the right-hand side of their three-man defensive unit.
This positional flexibility would make Inacio an ideal compliment to the existing cohort of United centre-halves, given the current issues each defender possesses.
Raphael Varane is United’s best centre-half, but his persistent fitness issues make a capable deputy a must. Similarly, Lisandro Martinez has been ruled out for the foreseeable future, with the Argentine requiring surgery on the same injury he sustained last season.
Victor Lindelof is rated by Ten Hag and has peformed well in the two first-choice’s stead, but the Dutch manager prefers a left-footed option at LCB. Furthermore, Lindelof continues to look weak in crucial moments and may be best situated as the fourth-choice centre-back in the squad.
The current fourth-choice – Harry Maguire – needs no further analysis. It would be the best option for him, for the club and for the fan base for the England centre-half to move on.
Which is what makes the prospect of Inaco so alluring. A technically gifted, left-footed defender who would thrive in Ten Hag’s system.
January can’t come soon enough.