Manchester United's 7 centre-back targets, ranked from most to least likely deals
Manchester United have been linked with a proliferation of centre-backs this summer, understandably, after the club conceded 58 Premier League goals this season.
Where it gets tricky, is working out which links are reliable and assessing which can be bumped to the bottom of the pile.
With United eyeing players based in the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Italy, the club are certainly casting their net wide to try and find a player who can improve the club’s leaky backline.
There are seven centre-backs linked to United at present, who we have ranked from first to last in order of reliability…
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Jurrien Timber – 1
Ajax centre-back Jurrien Timber is one of Europe’s most highly rated players, who new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag knows incredibly well.
United’s interest is well established at this stage. The Guardian reported initial talks have opened with Ajax, while Voetball International reported Timber’s representatives had been negotiating a move at Manchester United’s offices.
The deal has temporarily stalled with Timber on international duty, and weighing up whether or not to make a move. He is factoring in whether a switch would be a risk for his Netherlands World Cup place, and Ten Hag would have to reassure him.
The Mirror claimed this hesitancy could put a move on hold until after the World Cup. It’s possible, but at a guess, we would predict United get the deal done this summer. He is by far the most likely candidate.
Pau Torres – 2
Pau Torres was linked with a move to Manchester United last year, and stayed to play a part in Villarreal’s Champions League run.
This year Villarreal only qualified for the Europa Conference League, and there is a better chance the Spain international will move on.
Spanish newspaper AS has reported Torres is open to a move, and he could cost around £50 million. Torres would be a reliable option, proven quality, who would bring a commanding presence at the back.
David Carmo – 3
A report from The MEN last week claimed Manchester United had held two rounds of talks with Braga over a move for David Carmo.
The defender is a different kind of profile to Timber and Torres, who would come in and expect to be first choice.
Carmo is more of a back-up option, who could be signed to consolidate the defence if all three of Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe, and Phil Jones are sold.
Goncalo Inacio – 4
United have been linked with a move for Sporting defender Goncalo Inacio by Portuguese newspaper Correia da Manha.
Inacio is just 20, and a young alternative to Jurrien Timber. An English source is yet to back up the claims, but given the way Manchester United have regularly looked to Portugal in recent years, this would not be a surprising move.
He also has a release clause of £38.4 million, making him a very affordable option if a move for Jurrien Timber falls through.
Lisandro Martinez – 5
While everybody is ‘zigging’ in the direction of Jurrien Timber, The Telegraph choose to ‘zag’ towards his fellow Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez, claiming Manchester United are keen.
Martinez is older than Timber at 24, and also has a cool nickname, ‘the butcher of Amsterdam’.
Like the Timber situation, Erik ten Hag knows him well, signing him for Ajax – but this potential deal has no current momentum behind it, and does not appear to be a priority.
Josko Gvardiol – 6
A report in The Telegraph this week claimed Manchester United are considering a move for RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol.
Gvardiol is widely regarded as the best young defender in the world, more experienced than Timber already at the age of 20, and coveted by numerous top clubs.
The Croatian would be an ambitious target for the Red Devils, as RB Leipzig are very reluctant to let him leave, after just one full season in Germany.
He would cost around £60 million, which is probably more than United wish to spend on a centre-back. It is far more likely United pursue one of the cheaper options.
Alessandro Bastoni – 7
Reports from Italy are always the least reliable type of transfer rumours. Gazzetta dello Sport claimed United held interest in Bastoni a fortnight ago, and this week Gianluca di Marzio suggested the club were readying to make a move. It’s all fantasy.
United are being used to tempt suitors Tottenham into a bid, it appears, and Bastoni has no intention of leaving Inter Milan in any case.
‘Bastoni will certainly remain at Inter’, his agent told Football Italia yesterday, shutting down any suggestion he is on his way to Old Trafford.