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Manchester United Transfer News: Leonardo Bonucci Linked in Latest Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2018

AC Milan's defender Leonardo Bonucci looks dejected at the end of the Italian Tim Cup (Coppa Italia) final Juventus vs AC Milan at the Olympic stadium on May 9, 2018 in Rome. - Juventus crushed AC Milan 4-0 on today at the Stadio Olimpico to win a fourth consecutive Italian Cup. Mehdi Benatia opened the floodgates after 56 minutes for the first of a double of the night for the Moroccan with Douglas Costa also finding the net in the space of nine minutes. A Nikola Kalinic own goal accounted for the fourth (Photo by Isabella Bonotto / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP/Getty Images)
ISABELLA BONOTTO/Getty Images

Manchester have identified AC Milan centre-back Leonardo Bonucci as a player who can improve their defence, according to Duncan Castles of Yahoo Sport UK. 

The Rossoneri are in danger of being penalised for a breach of UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, per Castles, who believes the situation will increase doubts about the futures of key players, including skipper Bonucci.

Castles described how Milan are "expected to be excluded from the 2018-19 Europa League by the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body this week."

The issue and pending punishment stems from the €250 million spent by Milan last summer only for the club to fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Milan are expected to lose their Europa League place over breaches of Financial Fair Play.
Milan are expected to lose their Europa League place over breaches of Financial Fair Play.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

If the Rossoneri are forced to sell, Bonucci would be an attractive target for many teams, even if United are also considering other options. Castles named the Azzurri international as one of five centre-backs being monitored, with Jerome Boateng, Toby Alderweireld, Caglar Soyuncu and Martin Skriniar the others.

Bonucci is perhaps the most curious of the group for United. The 31-year-old's comfort in possession has already been most successfully displayed in a back three.

By contrast, United boss Jose Mourinho has most often used a four-man defence. Mourinho's organisation and pragmatism helped the Red Devils field a stingy defence last season, surrendering just 28 goals in the Premier League, second only to champions Manchester City.

Mourinho is also not short of options for the heart of defence, with England internationals Phil Jones and Chris Smalling supplemented by Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

There are question marks about many of United's central defensive options.
There are question marks about many of United's central defensive options.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

However, both Jones and Rojo have been blighted by injuries, while 28-year-old Smalling remains inconsistent.

Meanwhile, Lindelof made a mere 24 starts across all competitions after arriving from Benfica in a deal worth £31 million last summer. Bailly is probably United's best central defender, but injuries have stunted his development somewhat.

Bonucci would add experience and improve United's ability to pass out from the back, yet the veteran's game may not suit the pace of the Premier League. His arrival could also block the development of 23-year-old Lindelof and Bailly, 24.

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