The Manchester United squad inherited by new manager Erik ten Hag is quite bloated in some areas and in serious need of reinforcements in others. The Dutchman has prioritized the midfield as the area in need of most improvement after which he will look to bolster the attacking side But on the back of finishing the season with a goal difference of zero, which included conceding 57 times, the former Ajax boss is aware of the defensive frailties he has inherited.
The United first team squad currently consists of six center backs, each having had a nightmare campaign last time around. Raphael Varane was bought from Real Madrid with the hope that he would transform the defensive unit but it was anything but. Injuries meant he only managed. 29 appearances in all competitions.
Harry Maguire had the worst time of it all last season. He looked off the pace and committed far too many errors with fans resorting to booing him on multiple occasions. Victor Lindelof has rarely looked comfortable and it was the same case in the season gone by ..
🚨 #MUFC will listen to offers for Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe – they are also hoping to bring in a central defender. Lisandro Martínez is among several options being considered. @hirstclass 🤝
— UtdPlug (@UtdPlug) June 21, 2022
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones have spent more time on the injury table than on the bench and despite a few promising displays, it would be wise for United to cut short their losses at this stage.
Everyone wanted Axel Tuanzebe to succeed at United, especially after his superlative display away to PSG in 2020-21 season. But injuries and an underwhelming loan spell at Aston Villa and Napoli has meant he has slipped even further down the pecking order.
Martinez the target
According to The Times, United will listen to offers for Bailly, Jones and Tuanzebe this summer as they look to revitalize the squad. And departures will mean that the Red Devils will potentially look at making defensive reinforcements.
The initial plan for Ten Hag was to look at signing compatriot Jurrien Timber from his former club. But after the Netherlands national coach Louis van Gaal fired a warning that Timber would not be part of his World Cup plans if he does not play regularly for his new club, Timber has distanced himself from the move.
That has meant the 20-time English champions have turned their attention to another Ajax defensive mainstay, Lisandro Martínez. The United boss knows Martinez well, having signed him three years ago from Defensa in a deal of just over £ 5 million.
However, the Argentina international has three years left on his contract with the Dutch champions who value him at over £ 30 million. Ajax are in a financially sound position and do not need to sell. If would take an exceptional offer for the club to part ways with the versatile Argentine who has also attracted interest from fellow Premier League side Arsenal.
United have sounded out Villarreal star Pau Torres as another potential defensive recruit. They hold a long-standing interest in the Spain international, from the days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
However, any deal for a defender will happen only at a later stage with the club currently focussing on missing Ten Hag’s numero uno target Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.
With pre-season fast approaching, fans are hoping the new regime can begin with a bang which can only happen if all the transfer targets arrive in time for Ten Hag to work his magic.