Victor Lindelof is a firm fixture in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred Manchester United line-up, and it doesn’t look like this will change.
It’s been frustrating at times for supporters, with the widely held view that Eric Bailly is a superior option.
But let’s give Lindelof credit. The way he has played in recent weeks should not go ignored.
Lindelof has been a key part of United’s strong record against the ‘big six’, keeping clean sheets twice against Chelsea, twice against Manchester City, and in recent matches with Arsenal and Liverpool.
In fact, United are unbeaten in the last 16 Premier League matches Lindelof has started.
Eric Bailly has been an able deputy too, it is only when neither of them have been available and Axel Tuanzebe has stepped in, against Sheffield United and Istanbul Basaksehir, that United have looked worse off.
He’s been playing well
Lindelof was impressive against Manchester City, with his partnership with Harry Maguire working well. The pair have had a lot of criticism, with Gary Neville telling Sky Sports they are not a good pairing.
Lindelof and Maguire have responded well since, and the Swede even had a bit of praise in the media too.
Garth Crooks picked him in his BBC Team of the Week and wrote: “Victor Lindelof’s ability to recover situations against City was impressive and it is becoming a feature of his game. Team-mate Harry Maguire might be more imposing but it’s Lindelof who provides that touch of class.”
It’s good to see Lindelof’s performances being praised, and he has earned it. Solskjaer still likes him in the big games, and to be fair, he is showing why.
One high profile mistake could easily ruin it, but Lindelof should have earned a bit of faith from supporters. Seeing him name in line-ups shouldn’t spark a feeling of disappointment or trepidation, as it has at times this season, perhaps irrationally.
This Thursday Lindelof could be on the bench as United rotate him with Eric Bailly, as United factor in his own ongoing back problem.
Pause for thought
Lindelof is likely aware of ongoing rumours linking United to a new centre-back, and his performances may be giving Solskjaer pause for thought.
It’s still likely United add a new centre-back this summer, but one may not be a priority. A younger player for a cheaper price could be signed. The club could choose to push harder for Jadon Sancho or Erling Haaland, instead of paying £60-70 million for a defender.
Jules Kounde, a reported top target, has a release clause of £68 million. The Mail report United were shying away from paying this kind of money for him.
And that was before his Champions League mauling against Dortmund. Erling Haaland got the better of him in the first leg, and last night he was muscled off the ball after wandering out of position, leading to the German side scoring the opening goal of the second leg.
It was the kind of error Lindelof would be vilified for. Kounde is a fine player, but is he a £68 million improvement on this United defence? The jury is out, especially after last night.
Every player makes mistakes, but Lindelof is making fewer and fewer lately. If he finishes the season strongly, United’s plans could shift dramatically.
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