If Manchester United are searching for a successor to left-back Patrice Evra, one suggested transfer target should be Nice's 22-year-old Timothee Kolodziejczak, who could have joined United as a 16-year-old, per beIN Sports (h/t talkSPORT).
Au Revoir, Evra
Former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knows how hard it is to find a great full-back, per Ferguson's 2013 autobiography:
With full-backs it's like searching for a rare bird.
When we first saw Evra, he was playing as a wing-back [at Monaco], but he had the speed and was young enough to switch to full-back in our system.
We knew plenty about his attacking capabilities. He was quick, had superb technique and a strong personality.
Ferguson signed the then 24-year-old Evra from Monaco for £5.5 million in 2006, per BBC Sport, who transitioned into a world-class left-back for United.
Eight years on, Evra is refusing to commit long-term to a rebuilding project under David Moyes' United, with the reigning Premier League champions (under Ferguson) currently seventh.
"When I put on a Manchester United shirt, I will give everything, no matter what my future is," Evra said, per ESPN. "It is not a good day to talk about my future because the most important thing is Manchester United's future, not mine."
United management do not have an heir apparent to Evra's starting left-back spot.
Backup left-back Alexander Buttner, who has only started one Premier League game this season, would have been given more chances if he was deemed a worthy successor.
This is why United management should consider signing Kolodziejczak from Nice.
Kolodziejczak possesses the physical tangibles to make a switch to centre-back, a position Nice manager Claude Puel has played the 22-year-old in.
Though, Kolodziejczak has proven he can be an avenue on the left flank for Nice to base their attacks around.
In Nice's 2-2 draw against Montpellier, he was involved in three of the top five passing combinations and was part of five passing combinations which were nine passes or more.
Kolodziejczak was a pivotal reason why Nice accumulated 60.8 percent of possession and made 169 more passes than Montpellier, per FourFourTwo.com.
When Kolodziejczak is in free-flow, he can be a metronomic passer and he has a vast passing range.
He sent Nice right attacking midfielder Alexy Bosetti through on goal in a 2-0 win over Bastia with a pass that you would associate with a world-class playmaker, a la Monaco's James Rodriguez.
Last season, then Nice central attacking midfielder Camel Meriem was played into an advantageous position from an incisive Kolodziejczak pass.
When Nice centre-forward Neal Maupay scored a late-winner in a 3-2 victory against Evian Thonon Gaillard last season, the play was created via an immaculate lofted through ball from Kolodziejczak.
Kolodziejczak is at his best making passes on the ground or hitting crosses with velocity, as he did in Nice's 1-0 win over Marseille, when he found an unmarked Mahamane Traore, who blazed over.
Another bonus in Kolodziejczak's game is that he is low-risk: He is only dispossessed of the ball 0.2 times per game.
Yes, Kolodziejczak is handy in the attacking half, but it is his defensive stoutness which makes him United quality.
He has made 63 tackles and intercepted 51 passes in 25 Ligue 1 games, meaning, he has already won back possession 114 times, while only conceding 21 free-kicks.
Here is an adapted graphic of Kolodziejczak's defensive contributions in Nice's 1-0 win over Lille: Look at how clean he is—not one failed tackle or failed clearance.
Guess how many fouls Kolodziejczak gives away per game? Only 0.8, which is marginally more efficient (0.2+) than Evra (1.0).
Not beating out Aly Cissokho for a starting position at Lyon raises concerns regarding Kolodziejczak's mental toughness in a high-pressure situation.
Just ask Kolodziejczak's manager, Puel, who had a Moyes-like impact on Lyon's dynasty coming to a shuddering halt, the difference between coaching in Lyon and at Nice.
Can Kolodziejczak make the grade at an illustrious club such as United?
He didn't at Lyon, so that is a red flag that United management have to investigate.
Kolodziejczak is a 6'1" left-back who is built like a centre-back, can make impactful passes and is a reliable defender.
He is 22 years of age, and he is playing at a club in Nice, which in the past have picked up discards and advanced their careers, such as Evra, Florent Balmont and Loic Remy.
What club did Balmont and Remy fail to make the grade at? Lyon.
Kolodziejczak is on course to turn into the player Lyon thought he would become: a world-class player.
This is why United should be looking into signing Kolodziejczak as Evra's replacement.
Statistics via WhoScored.
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