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Defensive overhaul would help Man United play more expansively

Jose Mourinho has his sights on a defensive overhaul in the summer that includes a bid for Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti – who reportedly had a £52.8m release clause – as per the Sunday Times.

Improving the quality of his defensive personnel would allow Mourinho to utilise a more expansive brand of football at Old Trafford.

What’s the story, then?

French international centre-half Umtiti and Juventus left-back Alex Sandro are among the players who have reportedly been approached as Mourinho looks to invest heavily in a back four that remains largely composed of players who were at United under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The report claims that Umtiti is stalling over a bumper new contract at the Nou Camp, while Italian giants Juve would sell Sandro provided their valuation is met.

Full-backs Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw are also named as players who look set to leave Old Trafford in the summer as Mourinho embarks on yet another summer of investment.

Improving the defence would improve the attack

Part of the reason that Mourinho, and his predecessor Louis van Gaal did the same, plays such a risk-averse system is that his defenders are simply not good enough.

Nervy defenders such as Chris Smalling have to defend deep and be in the relative security of their penalty area in order to look commanding, while aging full-backs Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are not necessarily elite in terms of getting up and down.

Having athletic defenders in their prime, such as Umtiti and Sandro, would allow United to play higher up the pitch, including in the bigger matches, where they have drawn great criticism for parking the bus.

The safety-first style is surely a by-product of having defensive options that are not good enough and have not been sufficiently invested in.

However, the one niggle is that Mourinho has bought a centre-half in both of the past two summers. One is injury-prone – Eric Bailly – while the other – Victor Lindelof – has struggled to adapt to English football.

Article title: Defensive overhaul would help Man United play more expansively

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