Smalling & Jones upgrades? Five top class options for Man United

Since the decline and departure of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, the centre-back position has been one of great concern for Manchester United. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans have had their chances to hold down a regular role, yet none of the trio have been able to find any real form of consistency.

Injuries have also plagued United’s defence in the last few years, with Jones in particular having seen his career stunted by fitness issues, while others have suffered.

Marcos Rojo’s arrival last summer helped the defensive cause marginally, and the Argentine, at times, looked like a player deserving of a position at the heart of the United defence. Despite this there are real concerns, and the number one priority for Ed Woodward and Louis Van Gaal this summer must be to add at least one centre back to provide stability and quality. So with that in mind, here are FIVE options…

Sergio Ramos

All set up to be the transfer saga of the summer, many reports are speculating that Ramos has been subject to at least one bid from Manchester United.

Coming into the peak of his career at 29, Ramos is the sort of fiery leader Old Trafford has been crying out for. His temper may cause him problems at times, but that is a small price to pay for United to bring one of the best centre-backs in the world to their club.

John Stones

A far less experienced option than Ramos, Stones has the potential to be one of the top defenders in Europe. Unusually for an Englishman, Stones looks comfortable on the ball and his willingness to play out from the back suits Van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’.

Everton are likely to fight tooth and nail to keep their man, but as highly rated as he is at Goodison Park, every footballer has their price.

Stones’ addition would only make sense at this point if put alongside a more experienced option, but he’s still an option the men in suits at Old Trafford should be looking at.

Toby Alderweireld

Although he looks to be close to a move to Southampton, Alderweireld could still be targeted by United. After a solid season at Saints on loan, the Belgian is looking for a permanent move and should not be overlooked.

Not as glamorous as many that United are linked with, Alderweireld would be available at a considerably better price and was one of the unsung stars in the league last season.

His potential signing also brings another option at right-back, which is all the more crucial with United missing out on Clyne.

Nicolas Otamendi

After a wonderful season in an improving Valencia side, Otamendi is hot property right now.

Reportedly, both Real Madrid and Manchester United are chasing the Argentine’s signature and Valencia are commanding a fee in excess of £20 million.

While his future remains in doubt, Otamendi is one of the more costly options for Van Gaal to pursue. Any move for Ramos is likely to trigger a Real Madrid transfer for Otamendi.

Diego Godin

Another South American option for Van Gaal and a greatly experienced leader at the heart of the Atletico Madrid defence.

Godin has a record similar to Ramos in terms of coming up with important goals for his side, and that says something about the mentality of the man. Godin may be short of pace, and could be exposed in United’s high line, but his experience at the pinnacle of the European game would be of huge benefit to the players around him.