With just one fixture of their 2015/16 campaign remaining – the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace – the summer transfer window is certainly starting to loom over Manchester United.
And considering the Red Devils have continually decimated their spending records since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, the Old Trafford outfit look set to splash the cash once again this summer – especially with the lucrative new television deal coming into effect.
And one of the departments requiring United’s attention is the transfer market is the defence. The Red Devils have conceded the fewest goals of any Premier League side this season, but they’ve depended on young players plugging gaps and sustained protection from an overtly-defensive midfield for much of the campaign.
So with that in mind and the summer transfer window just around the corner, we at Football FanCast have combined the club’s top defenders with their leading transfer targets to create United’s dream defence (goalkeeper included) for next season.
Should failure to qualify for the Champions League push David De Gea closer towards his much-anticipated transfer to Real Madrid, it’s hard to look past Stoke City’s Jack Butland as the Manchester United No.1’s replacement. Perhaps we haven’t received a large enough sample of the England international’s ability yet following just a single season as first-choice at the Britannia, but the 23-year-old’s enormous potential is obvious, ranking fourth in the Premier League’s save charts and eighth in the clean sheet table despite missing the last seven fixtures of the campaign. United are famed for their synergy with the national team and the £20million-rated shot-stopper could well replace Joe Hart within the next few years.
Manchester United were hot on Seamus Coleman’s heels last summer and could well revive their interest in the coming transfer window. Matteo Darmian hasn’t exactly convinced on either side of the defence this season, whilst converted winger Antonio Valencia isn’t a viable long-term option at No.2. And despite Everton’s tribulations this season, the Ireland international is still amongst the most exciting full-backs in the Premier League, famed for his dynamism and contributions in the final third. But the Toffees rejected a £20million bid for the 27-year-old last summer and clearly value him highly.
Manchester United are notably short of world-class quality but Chris Smalling must surely be upon the peripheries of such status. He’s improved exponentially since Louis van Gaal took the Old Trafford hotseat and is now a real leader of their backline, inspiring through instruction as well as performance. But the 26-year-old’s game does include notable weaknesses – particularly on the ball – so it’s imperative the Red Devils sign a top-class partner this summer, which brings us onto…
In terms of dream centre-back additions, they don’t get much dreamier than Raphael Varane. The Real Madrid star has slumped down the pecking order at the Bernabeu in recent months but he’s unquestionably still amongst the most exciting youngsters in world football as an almost complete defensive package; combining speed, power and an exceptional reading of the game with real quality on the ball. The 23-year-old has recently hinted he’s become a little disillusioned with his substitute role under Zinedine Zidane and Manchester United have been put in the frame to snap him up.
Manchester United fans must be feeling a little short-changed with Luke Shaw, having managed just 21 Premier League appearances since signing from Southampton in summer 2014 amid a raft of injury problems. But the 20-year-old has always impressed when fully fit, relentlessly overlapping to the extent that he’s often Manchester United’s most dynamic attacking threat. If the England international can avoid injury next season, he stands a very good chance of justifying his £30million transfer fee.