Manchester United are “monitoring” versatile defender Odilon Kossounou who has enjoyed a great season at the heart of Bayer Leverkusen’s impressive defence.
The Ivorian has formed a key part of Xabi Alonso’s three-man set-up which has seen Bayer Leverkusen top the Bundesliga without losing a game and conceding the fewest goals.
In fact, only three other clubs across Europe’s top five leagues – OGC Nice, Real Madrid and Inter Milan – have let in less goals than Alonso’s resolute unit.
What makes this even more impressive, however, has been how potent an attacking threat Leverkusen have retained at the other end of the pitch.
The German side have scored a ridiculous 91 goals already this season – more than double what Erik ten Hag’s side have been able to achieve in the same period.
Alonso has achieved this seemingly perfect symbiosis between defence and attack because every player on the pitch contributes to each side of the game in equal measure. Attacks start in defence and the defence starts with the attack.
Kossounou, along with Jonathan Tah and Edmond Tapsoba, are all comfortable playing out from the back. The 23-year-old defender is also capable of playing at both centre-back and right-back, making him ideally suited to the right-hand side of Alonso’s three-man defence.
Kossounou’s pace enables him to defend large spaces down the right side of the pitch which, in turn, allows Jeremie Frimpong to push up high from right-wing back.
The Dutch fullback – who has been strongly linked with a move to United himself – essentially functions as a right-winger for Leverkusen, owing to the cover Kossounou provides.
Frimpong’s seven goals and ten assists this season speaks to the productive freedom he enjoys in this system; while Leverkusen’s defensive stability speaks to Kossounou’s covering abilities.
The Ivorian defender even achieved a remarkable 80% tackle success rate at his previous club, Club Brugge, further demonstrating his excellent one-on-one defending ability.
Florian Plettenberg (Sky Sports Germany) reveals Old Trafford officials are “monitoring” the Ivorian defender following this “strong season” for Die Werkself. The reporter contends Kossounou has been added to United’s “extended list” of targets.
🔴 News Odilon #Kossounou: Due to his strong season with Leverkusen, he is on Manchester United's extended list!
➡️ He’s not not a top target but they are monitoring him … #MUFC
📍Kossounou, key player for Alonso. Contract until 2026. One to watch for summer transfer window.… pic.twitter.com/qfpC8TCyI6
— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) January 18, 2024
As a result, Plettenberg believes that while the 23-year-old is “not a top target”, he is a source of interest for the club. Furthermore, with his contract set to expire in 2026, this summer represent Leverkusen’s last chance to sell the defender at a premium.
Meanwhile, it’s believed United are considering a comprehensive overhaul of their defence this summer. There is the prospect of not one but two central defenders being brought in, with a further addition at right-back as well.
A player who able to fulfil both roles, like Kossounou can, would provide a single solution to dual needs in defence. As such, United may need to bump the defender from the player of interest list into the ‘top target’ category.