Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were mainstays at Old Trafford but in the latest Manchester United transfer news a new star could emulate their success.
AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia may have four years remaining on his contract with the Serie A side, but according to reports, he is available to purchase on the transfer market.
Considering the dearth in quality defensive options that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has, it is no surprise that the Dutchman has been linked with a £30 million swoop for Benatia - one of the more intelligent centre backs in world football last season - after a move for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen failed to materialise.
But how does Benatia compare to the men he would effectively be replacing, should he choose to leave the Stadio Olimpico to join the Old Trafford club?
|Serie A 2013-14||Team||Tackle / apps||Intercept / apps||Clear / apps||Clean Sheet||Pass Acc||Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|
Last season, Benatia returned 70 tackles, 92 interceptions and 211 clearances from 33 appearances in the Italian league which, when worked out on a per game average, is superior to the statistics returned from Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand from each of the past three seasons of Premier League football.
He also helped keep his club's sheet clean against sides like Lazio, Internazionale, Napoli and Udinese.
|Premier League 2013-14||Team||Tackle / apps||Intercept / apps||Clear / apps||Clean Sheet||Pass Acc||Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|
Compared to the Manchester United pair from the 2013-14 season, the only area where Benatia is out-performed, if when it comes to clearing the football, with Vidic responsible for more clearances on a per game average. Ferdinand also has a slightly superior passing accuracy, but attempted far fewer passes each match.
|Premier League 2012-13||Team||Tackle / apps||Intercept / apps||Clear / apps||Clean Sheet||Pass Acc||Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|
A similar pattern is found when studying data available from the 2012-13 season and the 2011-12 season, with Benatia a clearly superior footballer in various departments and one who, at 27-years-old, is entering his peak years as a defender and also as an athlete.
|Premier League 2011-12||Team||Tackle / apps||Intercept / apps||Clear / apps||Clean Sheet||Pass Acc||Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|