van Gaal denied priority target: Is Liverpool star or Arsenal man an option?

New Manchester United manager may not secure his number one defensive target but perhaps he should look at available Premier League players.

In this HITC:Sport data analysis, one of Louis van Gaal's alleged "priority" transfer targets for the upcoming summer market, Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund, was compared to a similar calibre of centre back already playing in the Premier League.

Such a transfer may not bear any fruit for van Gaal, though, as the player's father - Herman Hummels - reiterated his son's "happiness" at BvB whilst reminding talkSPORT that the Dutchman had not even been in contact with him regarding Hummels' availability.

Should the door to Mats be slammed shut, the window, of course, will be open for over two months, meaning that van Gaal will still have a lot of time to explore alternative options - but are any of those alternatives already in England and, more importantly, available for purchase?

  ClubTackle /AppClear /AppInt'cept /AppDuel (W) /AppAerial (W) /AppPass AccConc /AppAppMin
Agger Liverpool 1.35 5.70 1.05 4.25 2.25 89.07% 0.80 20 1,420
Vidic United 1.16 10.56 1.88 5.80 4.28 85.51% 1.00 25 2,082
Vermaelen Arsenal 1.00 5.57 1.36 3.93 2.36 90.78% 1.14 14 782
Ferdinand United 0.71 6.36 1.36 2.07 1.14 89.04% 1.07 14 1,128

In the data table above, it is clear that both Liverpool star Daniel Agger and Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen are comparable to Nemanja Vidic, even though they played less cumulative minutes. 

Agger and Vermaelen have a superior passing accuracy to both the outbound United duo Vida and Ferdinand, while the Reds stopper is also more prolific at tackling. Out of all of the four players listed, it is also Agger who was a part of a rearguard who conceded the fewest goals per game (0.8) on average.

A recent report on Goal international claimed that Agger may be sold when the market opens for trading, with Napoli expected to launch a €14m bid, yet that is a fee United could easily match. Whilst Agger may not slot into the heart of midfield on a mainstay basis, he could provide reliable Premier League experience while van Gaal explores an option for his main centre back.

What may go against any prospective United interest in Agger, would be the player's refusal to be "anyone's third choice", leaving scope for the former Premier League kings to turn to Vermaelen.

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