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Ranking Manchester United’s defensive targets for January – Man United News And Transfer News

With Manchester United lacking squad depth at the back following an intense injury crisis, the club has been linked with several centre-backs in the January transfer window.

Lisandro Martinez is expected to be out for three months after undergoing surgery on a metatarsal fracture, while Raphael Varane has been in and out of the treatment room regularly, making him an unreliable option.

Such setbacks have forced United to plunge back into the transfer market.

Fabrizio Romano confirmed recently that Sporting Lisbon centre-back Gonçalo Inacio is being monitored by Man United, adding him to a list that already includes Antonio Silva, Jean-Clair Todibo, and Edmund Tapsoba.

Although each player is talented in his own right, let’s rank each player according to how suitable a target he is for United in January, from least suitable to most suitable.

4. Antonio Silva

Just 19 years of age, Silva has been a revelation for Benfica in Liga Portugal this season.

Over seven league matches, the teenager has completed 94% of his total passes, including 91% in the opposition half.

He has also proven to be a physical force at the back, winning an overwhelming 70% of his total duels, and making 3.6 tackles per game. (Stats via Sofascore)

While his talent and raw potential are undoubted, finance and the player’s own will prove to be major roadblocks when it comes to securing his signature.

Following publicised interest from United and Liverpool reports from Portugal claimed that Silva is not “dazzled” by such clubs.

Not only would United do well to avoid players who are not interested in representing the club, but the Portuguese teenager’s €120 million release clause also appears to be out of the club’s price range, rendering him an irrational transfer to pursue.

3. Goncalo Inacio

At 22 years old, Sporting Lisbon’s Inacio surely boasts significant reserves of untapped potential.

With three clean sheets in eight Liga Portugal matches so far this season, the Portuguese defender has successfully completed 89% of his total passes while recovering six balls per game.

While his 45% of total duels won may be less than other players on this list, he has only been dribbled past 0.6 times per game, showing that while he may not be as confident on the ball, his defensive prowess is certainly present. (Stats via Sofascore)

Still, Inacio’s stats could still improve, especially considering that the Portuguese teenager managed to win 57% of his total duels and attain a 92% total pass accuracy in Liga Portugal last season.

He is also the only player on the shortlist who is left footed. Ten Hag likes to play with a right-footed centre back at RCB and a left footer at LCB, so if it is cover on the left side the manager is looking for, Inacio has an advantage.

Although United may need to develop him further in order to bring him up to the standard of other defenders who are being monitored by the club, a release clause of £52 million could make him a worthwhile transfer to pursue, especially since United may be able to avoid a long and gruelling negotiation process as may be the case with other alternatives.

2. Edmond Tapsoba

With 86% passing accuracy, 62% ground duels won, three clearances per match, and an impressive 89% successful dribbles across 33 Bundesliga games last season, (Sofascore) Tapsoba is a consistent player who would provide much stability at the back for United.

He also has valuable Champions League experience, with 91% passing accuracy, 1.2 tackles per match, and 3.6 clearances per game across five appearances.

Furthermore, being 24 years old with the aforementioned experience, Tapsoba may have more maturity than other players on this list, which could result in him having more patience and better emotional control than his fellow transfer targets, which are required when playing for a team that is struggling to achieve consistency.

Also, his reported £40 million price tag is also attainable.

The only problem when it comes to Tapsoba is Bayer Leverkusen’s refusal to part ways with the player this season – a view that has been supported by Tapsoba’s agreement to sign a contract extension until the 2028 season.

While a realistic and suitable transfer target for United, Leverkusen’s reluctance to allow the player to depart could pose a near-impossible transfer pursuit that surely increases his asking price should the club eventually agree to part ways with the Burkina Faso international.

Still, Tapsoba’s skill and experience could make a pursuit of the player well worth it.

1. Jean-Clair Todibo

A player that United had already been pursuing during the summer transfer window, Todibo ultimately decided against departing OGC Nice, explaining: “I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t have the thought to tell myself that perhaps I should play in a ‘top club” to increase my chances [of playing for France], but there are also guarantees when playing at Nice.”

While the Frenchman may have been correct about his limited playing chances at a club like United during the summer, circumstances have since changed dramatically.

With Martinez unavailable, it has become clear that Varane is no longer a reliable option at centre-back given his repeated injury setbacks.

This, together with the understanding that Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, and Victor Lindelof are not of starting 11 calibre, has made Todibo’s pathway into the team clearer than before.

The Peoples Person reported that, when United made contact with Nice, the French club wanted £47 million for the player; a doable amount that is cheaper than the asking prices for both Antonio Silva and Goncalo Inacio.

What’s more, Todibo’s club is not looking to block a move for the player as is the case with Tapsoba, making an agreement at or near the asking price more likely.

Todibo has also successfully extended his effective performances from last season into the new campaign, attaining 91% passing accuracy, 8.4 ball recoveries per game, 66% total duels won, and even 100% dribbling accuracy in seven Ligue 1 games. (Sofascore)

Although every player on this list is a suitable transfer target for United to some degree, Todibo makes the most sense given his price tag, the club’s willingness to allow him to depart, United’s existing communication with Nice, and the 23 year old’s consistent performances on the pitch.

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