Nathaniel Clyne is quickly turning into the best right-back in Premier League football. The 23-year-old possesses electric pace alongside excellent defensive awareness. He is a valuable attacking option as well as a reliable defender, showcasing the similar class and ability that Pablo Zabaleta has received many plaudits for in recent seasons.
The former Crystal Palace defender has enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Southampton and his form has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United reportedly ready to offer the Saints £20million for the right-back’s services in the summer. Although Southampton currently sit above United in the Premier League table, the chance to be a part of van Gaal’s massive summer investment could be too good an opportunity to turn down.
Out of all the players linked with the Red Devils recently, Clyne is one that the club should go all out to acquire. If van Gaal really wants his 3-5-2 formation to pay off, he has to build from the back. Signing Clyne would represent a huge step in the right direction. He will easily be able to perform in the wing-back position due to his pace allowing him to cover a lot of ground in both an attacking and defensive sense. Although Antonio Valencia has been a good servant to United, he has never been a defender. Therefore, buying a player that can strengthen the defence is clearly a priority but Clyne’s attacking instinct is a bonus that van Gaal must be eager to have at his disposal.
Understandably, Southampton fans will be hoping that Clyne opts to stay put come the end of the season. The club will also be desperate to lose the selling-culture tag that came as a result of key players like Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw being part of a mass exodus in last summer’s transfer window. It is understood that Clyne has been offered a contract extension with the Saints but he is yet to sign it, fuelling speculation that he could be yet another key player allowed to depart Ronald Koeman’s side. There also lies the problem with financial competition as United will clearly be capable of offering more wages to Clyne due to their apparently limitless budget.
Southampton find themselves in a difficult situation once again and it is something United will want to take full advantage of. Clyne is really starting to assert himself both domestically and internationally as his recent displays for England have shown.
According to Squawka data, the young full back has been Southampton’s third-best performer this season, behind Dusan Tadic and Jose Fonte. He is also the third-highest tackler in the league, again showcasing exactly why LvG is interested in pursuing the England international. There is the sense that Clyne is ready to take his career to the next level and his decision in determining where he has the best chance of achieving that potential could result in a real transfer battle this summer.
The prospect of having both Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne in the wing back positions will get Manchester United fans excited. However, Southampton will be doing all they can to keep hold of one of their star players. Clyne will continue to produce assuring displays for the Saints this season and interest in the full-back will be rife in the summer.
Old Trafford has not witnessed a consistently impressive right-back since the glory days of Gary Neville so the potential to fix this problem for £20m could be too good an opportunity for van Gaal and co to ignore, especially if Clyne decides that he wants a new challenge at the highest level.