Manchester United reportedly tracking Croatian left-back Borna Sosa
Manchester United have been linked with signing an exciting left-back. German outlet Focus.de report Stuttgart defender Borna Sosa has caught Manchester United’s eye ahead of the summer.
United are said to have joined Barcelona, Arsenal and Tottenham in pursuit of the defender, who could cost around £20 million.
Alex Telles’ recent performances have not been nearly good enough and Sosa is a very interesting option to replace him, despite the presence of Luke Shaw, and prospects Alvaro Fernandez and Brandon Williams.
Who is Borna Sosa?
1) Sosa signed for Stuttgart in 2018 from Dinamo Zagreb. Signed a developmental prospect, he has been a regular in the Bundesliga over the past two seasons.
2) He is a Croatia international with five caps, earning his first call-up last year. He would be Manchester United’s first ever Croatian player. Germany had tried and failed to get him to switch allegiance to them as he qualified through his mother.
3) Sosa, 24, is under contract at Stuttgart to 2025. He had signed a contract extension in 2020.
4) This season Sosa has eight Bundesliga assists, and he provided nine last season. He is averaging 2.5 successful crosses per game this season, the third highest in Germany.
5) He made his professional debut as a starter for Dinamo Zagreb in 2015, with former Manchester United prospect Angelo Henriquez leading the line and scoring twice in a 2-0 league win.
Sosa’s crossing ability has earned him some serious plaudits, and this may well be what has caught Manchester United’s eye. One comparison will certainly grab the interest of Red Devils fans.
Sven Mislintat, Stuttgart sporting director, told Bundesliga.com: “Borna’s said himself that David Beckham is his role model, and I think he has the same qualities.
“He puts in crosses from every angle: sometimes chipped, sometimes drilled, sometimes flat, sometimes in behind, sometimes to the front post, other times to the back post. His left foot is a real weapon.”
Keen to move to England
Speaking to Croatian outlet Sportske Novosti, Sosa said in March: “I can confirm that I have a lot of interest. That is a fact. A lot of people are calling me. The summer transfer window is approaching. We know that negotiations start early, usually in April. And that’s in less than a month. I can say that the time has come for me to take a new step in my career.
“(The Premier League) I would say is by far the strongest league. And it is clear that the goal of every footballer is to play in the strongest leagues in the world. Definitely, I have a great desire to play in the Premiership.”
Sosa has a release clause in his contract of 25 million Euros (£21m) which can be activated if Stuttgart are relegated, Sport report. They are currently 18th, in the relegation play-off position.
Tailor made for Ronaldo… and Nunez
One of the disappointing aspects about Manchester United’s season has been that the team have not been able to provide good service into Cristiano Ronaldo up front. He has scored 24 goals despite this, and there is plenty more to still unlock.
Adding in a player with Sosa’s crossing ability could maximise Ronaldo’s aerial threat, and this would also work well longer term with potential striker signing Darwin Nunez.
Can he defend?
Manchester United fans were sold a dream with Alex Telles in 2020, that the Brazilian would be a dynamic attacking force, while also a defensive improvement on Luke Shaw. It hasn’t really worked out.
For all Sosa’s qualities, United fans would rather skip on him if he can’t defend. This is indeed where he falls down a little and the defensive numbers are a bit concerning.
FBRef note he averages just 0.56 tackles won per game, and just 1.23 interceptions per game. Both of these numbers put him in the bottom 10 per cent of full-backs in Europe’s top five leagues.
It should be noted Stuttgart play a different system to United, a 3-4-2-1, where Sosa can operate as a wing-back and is required to do less defensive work.
His Stuttgart side rank 18th in the Bundesliga, having conceded 58 goals – notably only two more than Manchester United this season.
Sosa is an exciting talent, but defensively there is a red flag which make may United wary enough to pass on this particular deal.