Manchester United have reportedly designated Marc Guehi as their “number one” target for the January transfer window.
Wayne Veysey (footballinsider247) indicates a senior source at Old Trafford has revealed the club are prioritising a move for the Crystal Palace defender, who’s seen as a potential solution to the defensive crisis Erik ten Hag is currently being confronted with.
At various points this season, Ten Hag has been devoid of his entire first-choice defensive unit from last year.
While Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw have returned from long-term injuries in recent weeks, Lisandro Martinez will continue to be unavailable until the new year.
Similarly, Raphael Varane, though currently fit, cannot seem to stay that way.
In their stead, Harry Maguire has performed something of a Christmas miracle by re-establishing himself in the United first-team. Arguably, the former United captain has even been his team’s best player in this period, though this is a very low bar.
It remains to be seen whether Maguire’s future will be at Old Trafford, however, despite this impressive turnaround.
United’s back-line has played far deeper and more conservatively in the last few months; a tactic which suits the strengths of Maguire, but not one Ten Hag will be seeking to employ long-term.
As such, a new centre-back who suits the Dutchman’s style more than Maguire, but can be available more consistently than Varane, makes sense as a priority.
Veysey reports United have been keeping “close tabs” on Guehi, who has gone from strength to strength since relocating from Stamford Bridge to Selhurst Park in 2021.
This mirrors reports by The Peoples Person last month which revealed United’s interest in the defender.
The centre-back has impressed at the heart of the Crystal Palace defence, displaying the well-rounded skill set on and off the ball modern defenders must have to succeed in today’s game.
Indeed, Guehi’s performances in red and blue have even warranted him a consistent spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, having made his debut for his country in March 2022.
Reports earlier in the season suggested Southgate viewed Guehi as a potential alternative to Maguire in the starting eleven for the Three Lions. This may be set to come true at club level as well.
One potential issue a pursuit of Guehi could produce would be the potential aerial fragility in United’s back-line.
A large part of United’s success last season stemmed from the impressive partnership of Varane and Martinez, who complimented each other style’s perfectly.
Martinez’s aggressive and proactive style was buttressed by the aerial dominance and world-class anticipation of Varane; the Argentine yin to the French yang.
Guehi clocks in at just under six foot and, while he is not weak in the air, he would not offer the same imposing frame Varane offered alongside the more diminutive Martinez.
Ten Hag has not been afraid to deploy an undersized centre-back pairing before, however, enjoying great success with a combination of Martinez and Jurrien Timber at the heart of his Ajax defence.
Perhaps Guehi could be set to form one part of the Dutchman’s newest defensive duo in January.