Manchester United’s quiet summer of 2020 will surely not be repeated in 2021.
Despite the obvious ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic — though that could be felt less harshly by June or July — United will surely dip into the summer market. The MEN has reported the club’s desire to recruit a new centre-back, following Marcos Rojo’s departure and with doubts over the long-term availability of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones.
Dayot Upamecano is one name that has been mentioned heavily in relation to United, but reports have suggested the RB Leipzig man could be moving elsewhere. So what are United’s other options in a position that has to be a priority?
Here are five centre-backs who could fit the bill for United in the coming transfer window:
The Sevilla man is a name that has been regularly mentioned whenever it’s mooted that Premier League club may want a central defensive reinforcement. And why not? He’s young, at 22, and his performances in La Liga over the past season or two suggest Kounde is up there with the best in Europe.
Sevilla director of football Monchi revealed he turned down a “magnificent” bid from Man City last summer, with Pep Guardiola’s side eventually turning to Ruben Dias instead.
Two years on from their marquee £80million swoop for Harry Maguire — signing him ahead of City — it could again fall on United to land a centre-back that Guardiola admired.
The former Leeds United loanee is attracting plenty of transfer attention, and as United seek to overhaul their centre-back options, his age could make him a great target.
Now shining in his debut Premier League season for Brighton, the 23-year-old would represent a bit of a punt, given his lack of experience compared to other high-profile names from around Europe.
MEN Sport reported in December that United were admirers of White, though Brighton would be reluctant sellers and it remains to be seen how much the Englishman would cost.
If United cannot get Upamecano, why not go for his centre-back partner and fellow countryman at Leipzig instead?
Konate is younger and possibly more exciting than Upamecano, as a 21-year-old who has been shining in the Bundesliga this season. A possible drawback to signing either player would be their poor performances in that 5-0 United victory over Leipzig in the Champions League group stage this season.
Leipzig aficionados, however, would be quick to tell you that the game did not fairly reflect the talents of the two French central defenders.
The obvious down-side to Zagadou is that he plays for a club that United may be keen to avoid negotiating with this summer, in Borussia Dortmund.
The Jadon Sancho saga undoubtedly caused tensions between the two clubs, though that shouldn’t really stop United taking a serious look at Zagadou. He is only 21, was schooled at Paris Saint-Germain and could be keen to move given that he doesn’t always get into Dortmund’s first-choice back line.
United need depth beside Maguire and Victor Lindelof and Zagadou would give them that, plus a whole lot of potential.
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Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 in the FA Cup, thanks to Scott McTominay’s extra-time winner.
United sealed a spot in the cup quarter-finals with victory over David Moyes’ side at Old Trafford, and now they travel to West Brom in the league on Sunday.
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Talking of options, why shouldn’t United consider a bold move for a Chelsea centre-back, in Christensen?
He is still young at 24 and has, at times, been part of Chelsea’s first choice defence — depending on their manager. Antonio Conte said the Dane had displayed “great maturity” and that he had “a lot of trust in Christensen.
United fans may baulk at the idea of signing a Chelsea reserve, but there is precedent for it (Juan Mata in 2014) and Christensen has something to offer.