Defensively, Manchester United haven’t been quite as poor this season as their squad might suggest. Helpfully, Chris Smalling has been aided by several quality youngsters and, despite the injury to Luke Shaw, the team looks to be relatively healthy defensively. However, there could be problems incoming, as Europa League football will stretch the squad to a whole new level.
This summer could provide an ideal opportunity for United to reassure their fans that the defence will be yet more secure next season. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo both look unlikely to have a long-term future at the club and the European Championship might just highlight a couple of players that could be perfect for the new manager’s (likely to be Jose Mourinho) defence.
Smalling cannot do it all alone, unfortunately, for United, so a centre-back will probably be signed this summer. ‘Daley Blind?!’ I hear you cry, well, as good as he’s been, he could be the answer to a few central-midfield problems at Man United.
So folks, here are FIVE defenders United really could do with keeping an eye on…
One of the few players in Germany’s squad who doesn’t belong to one of the bigger clubs in the Bundesliga.
Capable of playing as a defensive midfielder as well as his primary position of left-back, Hector would be a versatile addition to the Manchester United squad.
Although the Red Devils are currently well-stocked at left-back, Hector would be a step up from any current squad member. If the Koln man doesn’t tickle the fancy of the United board, there are plenty of other German defenders to look out for this summer.
Can Ogbonna nail down a place starting for Italy? Unlikely.
Antonio Conte is blessed with centre-backs in his squad and the West Ham man would do very well to become first choice. His pace and power would fit in beautifully alongside Chris Smalling, however, and he has all the attributes to become a genuinely complete centre-half.
The former Juventus man saw his career stagnate somewhat when he left Torino, unfortunately, but he is fully set to still reach that impressive potential.
It’s not quite been the superb season that some would have expected from Varane, who is yet to really become a regular at Real Madrid. The Frenchman is joined by plenty of other high quality centre-backs in his national team’s squad, much like Ogbonna.
Varane would surely still demand a substantial transfer fee, but United would be acquiring one of the best young defenders in world football.
Howedes is one of the less glamorous German players in their EUROs squad.
The FC Schalke man has been a trusted component of the German team for some time and is one of the most under-rated defenders in Europe. A more experienced option than some others on this list, Howedes can comfortably fill in at full-back on either side of the defence and would provide the United manager (Mourinho or not) with flexibility defensively.
They will have already seen a fair bit of John Stones at Manchester United, we reckon. However, if he is picked ahead of Gary Cahill, it could be a great opportunity to see Stones play alongside Chris Smalling.
Seldom would a club be able to see a potential signing form a partnership with one of their current players, so this is quite the unique chance for the United board. Could these EUROs be the ticket for Stones to finally leave Goodison?