If someone had told us just a few short seasons ago that Everton youngster – John Stones – would one day go onto prove one of the most sought after defenders in the entire Premier League, such a seemingly hopeful statement would most likely have been brushed off pretty rapidly.
As time seems to move very quickly within top flight modern day football these days however, with reputations constantly evolving and transforming throughout it all, the 21-year-old Goodison Park favourite has now nevertheless found himself filling that particular role after all…
Manchester United have subsequently been heavily linked with the young defender in light of his rapid emergence within the Premier League and amongst Roy Hodgson’s England squad on the international scene.
However, seeing as Chelsea so far remain the clear favourites to sign the up and coming Toffees man ahead of the new season – who will incidentally cost a great deal considering his age and current form – here are five other defensive targets who could arguably provide better options at Old Trafford across the 2015/16 campaign…
Manchester United’s pursuit of this current Real Madrid centre-back remains one of the most exciting transfer sagas to take place throughout the whole summer. Heavily entwined with David de Gea’s reported desire to make his switch from the Premier League to the Bernabeu for the 2015/16 season, this is a move likely to go down right to the wire if it eventually takes place.
The 29-year-old Spanish defender has simply done it all in the modern game. From succeeding at World Cup and Euro competitions on the international stage, to proving one of the most standout performers for Real Madrid in the Champions League – Sergio Ramos is a player with bags of winning experience under his belt.
At this stage in the club’s development, Manchester United need a player of just that skillset. The likes of John Stones will most probably prove promising assets in future seasons for sure – yet for now at least – Louis van Gaal ultimately requires a centre-back with a great deal more know-how than the current Everton youngster.
This Argentinean World Cup finalist seemingly gets linked with a high profile move to Old Trafford with almost every passing transfer window. Praise for the towering South American doesn’t arrive without credit however, for Ezequiel Garay is another top class defender who certainly could go far representing Manchester United.
The 28-year-old may have only recently made the switch from Benfica to Zenit St. Petersburg in 2014 – but seeing as the Red Devils have reportedly held the Argentinean high on the radar for a couple of back-to-back seasons now – maybe the player himself will be tempted by one last chance to play at Old Trafford next term.
With a number of other defensive targets making themselves known to Manchester United since the club’s initial interest in Garay however, maybe this is the kind of deal that simply no longer has any genuine potential to happen anymore – merely surviving on recycled rumours and pure speculation alone.
Perhaps a man more likely to make the switch to Old Trafford this summer is Ezequiel Garay’s Argentinean compatriot and fellow centre–back, Nicolas Otamendi. At 27-years-old he may not represent much of a young prospect with eyes on the future any more, yet this no-nonsense defender nonetheless remains a viable option for Louis van Gaal with all things considered.
Before making the switch to La Liga in 2014, Otamendi developed himself a pretty strong reputation with Porto as a powerful centre-back who also proved adept at playing the ball calmly out from the back. Since operating at the Mestalla Stadium in Spain however, the South American blocker has only seen his stock rise even higher of late.
Manchester United’s reported interest in the defender therefore remains justified going into the 2015/16 campaign – but seeing as rivals Manchester City are also supposedly in the frame for Otamendi’s signature as well – maybe this particular move will never quite see the light of day for the Old Trafford faithful.
Whilst this long-term Red Devils’ defensive target may have had a season to forget in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund last term, Mats Hummels still has to go down as one of the most reliable centre-backs currently operating in world football at the moment.
The powerful German certainly isn’t blessed with the quickest pace to make it in the Premier League, yet at the still promising age of only 26-years-old, the current BVB favourite definitely still has time to adjust to the English game and become a massive hit on these here shores.
Like Sergio Ramos before him, this recent World Cup winner will offer Louis van Gaal just the right balance of experience and ability for Manchester United to remain truly resolute at the back next season. The likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones need to learn their trade off a player such as Hummels, for another youngster like John Stones ultimately won’t be able to do the job currently required at Old Trafford next season.
However, the player’s reported desire to remain at Dortmund this season may make it hard for LVG to tempt Mats Hummels away from the Bundesliga in the end.
The last, and perhaps most unlikely name to join the ranks at Old Trafford this summer, arrives in the form of Atletico’s reliable captain at the back – Diego Godin.
The Uruguayan international again offers a great deal of experience to add among Louis van Gaal’s somewhat naïve looking outfit at this current stage. The defender’s ability to organise the back-line effectively led his current side to La Liga success across the 2013/14 campaign – which is something Manchester United would simply love to have on board this upcoming season by all accounts.
However, seeing as the resolute Atletico Madrid favourite has reportedly rejected a sensational £90,000 a week offer from Manchester City this summer, perhaps Diego Godin ultimately doesn’t see the Premier League as his next port of call throughout 2015/16.