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Manchester United: Goncalo Inacio could be Ten Hag’s Dias

Manchester United have identified rising Sporting Lisbon centre-back Goncalo Inacio as an option to assume a pivotal role at the heart of the defence over the coming years and could make a move this January…

What’s the word?

The Red Devils expressed an interest in the Portuguese ace’s signature last summer, with A Bola (via the Express) suggesting they had made a bid in the region of £35m for his services, with manager Erik ten Hag said to be a big admirer.

And now, O Jogo suggests that intrigue in his signature has been maintained by John Murtough and co, with his left-footed skill set a defining factor behind the desire to bring him to Old Trafford.

In the summer, Ten Hag ultimately went with Ajax Amsterdam’s Lisandro Martinez, signing the gem for £56.7m, but the allure of bringing another quality option into the fold, to partner Raphael Varane within the centre of the backline, could lead to a return.

Ruben Dias 2.0

Having won the past eight fixtures across all competitions, United are in contention for silverware once again. Indeed they are the only established ‘big six’ side to remain in the semi-final phase of the Carabao Cup and host EFL Championship outfit Reading in the FA Cup fourth round.

A forthcoming Europa League knockout tie against FC Barcelona will be a true test of the side’s abilities, but the varying elements have contributed to a navigated direction towards success once again, rather than the wayward, meandering travails that the club have been at the centre of over the past several years.

In order to maintain success, someone of Inacio’s ilk will indeed need to be slotted into the fold, cementing the resilience of the backline for years to come, and at just 21 years old the young titan could be the exact signing Ten Hag needs to ensure the ship does not sink.

Should United sign Inacio?

Yes

Yes

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As per FBref, the starlet ranks within the top 1% for passes attempted and progressive passes over the past year, also in the top 2% for pass completion and the top 9% for rate of assists, when compared to centre-backs across Men’s Next 8 leagues over the past year.

This innate ball-playing aptitude and knack for instigating offensive transitions, partnered with his Portuguese roots and career birth in his homeland, means that he could emulate the success of Manchester City titan Ruben Dias, who has flourished as one of European football’s supreme defenders since his arrival onto the major scene.

Forging 109 appearances for the Sky Blues, scoring four goals and five assists, the 25-year-old has become integral in his team’s exploits, winning two Premier League trophies, the Carabao Cup, and the 2020/21 Premier League Player of the Year.

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And having not dropped below 90.5% in passing accuracy since arriving in Manchester, as per Whoscored, the phenom certainly stakes a claim for a pedestal among the very best passers of the ball within the game.

Inacio can replicate the feats of his positional peer by arriving in Manchester himself, but etching his name into prominence by plying his trade among the red half of the prestigious footballing city.