Manchester United Transfers: 5 Defenders They Should Target in Summer Window
Sir Alex Ferguson’s dream of claiming the second treble of his illustrious career ended disastrously in his own backyard last week against Real Madrid.
Manchester United’s collapse at home to Chelsea on Sunday also dented their hopes of landing their first double in 14 years, too, highlighting the fact that there are some serious frailties at the heart of the Red Devils' back-line.
Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand’s influence has started to wane, whilst Patrice Evra is surely coming towards the end of his tenure in Manchester, too.
There are still several young, quality defensive players on United’s roster though, and Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Rafael have each prospered thanks to prolonged periods in the team.
But you can’t help but feel that Ferguson is set to spruce up his defence this summer, by making a marquee signing in the mould of Jaap Stam in 1998 and Rio Ferdinand in 2002.
But who should make their way to Old Trafford? Here are five defenders they should target in the summer transfer window.
Ezequiel Garay, Benfica
Benfica’s 26-year-old centre-back has been a colossus ever since he joined the club from Real Madrid in 2011.
So much so that the £4.75 million sum he cost around 18 months ago has more than tripled thanks to his dynamic displays.
Since January, the British tabloids have been overrun with rumors about Garay’s transfer to Old Trafford, as the ball-playing defender is seen as the long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand.
However, scouts are worried that he won’t be able to make the step up, having failed to do so at the Bernabeu, and they are set to watch him intensely over the remaining months of the season.
Garay is not only well-versed in reading the game, but he has a calming presence whilst on the ball and loves to waltz into midfield whilst in possession to start attacks of his own. He also managed to notch nine goals in just 31 games in his first full season for Racing de Santander.
Not too shabby.
Eliaquim Mangala, Porto
The 22-year-old French defender has so far flourished in his solitary season at Porto, after he joined the Portuguese giants from Standard Liege in the summer for a fee of £6 million.
It is thought that around £15 million would prise him away from the Estadio do Dragao, and Mangala has already registered his interest in moving to the Premier League.
But Ferguson can expect a tough battle for his signature from Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and other European giants, each of whom have been impressed with his strength and belligerence, which are akin to Nemanja Vidic.
However Mangala is also fast and possesses a technical ability that is missing from the Serbian’s game.
Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund
Having been at the heart of Germany’s defence throughout the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, as well as being one of the key reasons for Dortmund’s emergence as Europe’s most respected team, it feels like Mats Hummels should be much older than 24.
Hummels has formed a formidable partnership with Neven Subotic at Dortmund, and the pair led the side to a Bundesliga defensive record in the 2010-11 season.
His style of play has been compared to German deity Franz Beckenbauer, as he likes to start attacks from defence, has the strength and height to dispossess any opponent and reads the game almost telepathically.
Last October, Hummels refused to rule out a move abroad and even stated, “One day I will say that I am keen on a transfer.”
That time may be nigh.
Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Hotspur
Last summer Alex Ferguson decided not to sign up the 25-year-old from Ajax, allowing the versatile defender to sign for Tottenham Hotspur instead.
But the Manchester United impresario can’t help but have been impressed by the defender’s performances this season, especially after the Belgian scored at Old Trafford during Spurs’ 3-2 victory over the Red Devils in September.
Vertonghen has also shown that he can fill in at left-back when required, and his offensive prowess even saw him claim 10 goals in 37 appearances during his last season in Holland, when he was also named Eredivisie Player of the Year.
If Tottenham fail to qualify for the Champions League, United might be able to offer him a further incentive to move up North.
Marcel Schmelzer, Borussia Dortmund
Schmelzer has long since made himself Dortmund’s first-choice left-back, having emerged in the position during the 2010-11 season, where he played every minute of the campaign as his side claimed the Bundesliga. His consistent performances have enthralled defensive experts across the continent.
He has now amassed over 120 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s team, and he has even forced his way into the German national side, too.
Schmelzer is aggressive, quick and strong, and an ideal replacement for Patrice Evra. At 25, he has time to develop into the best left-sided defender in the world.