Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia, and so are Arsenal and Bayern Munich. And if Vincent Candela is to be believed, then their interest is justified.
‘For Roma, it (his departure) would be a great loss because we are talking about a player who has a grown a lot last season', he told Tuttomercatoweb.com.
'He is good with his feet, good with high balls, and it is for nothing that he scored five goals (last season). In football, we start from the back so if you have a player like him, then it is an advantage over the opponents. Hope he remains (at Roma), but I understand the market'.
Candela’s assessment of Benatia is spot-on. The 27-year-old Morocco international is indeed one of the best centre-backs in Europe at the moment and is someone who is going to be an asset to Louis van Gaal’s squad.
Candela himself is a decorated former Roma player, having won Serie A in 2001. The 40-year-old was also part of the France squad that clinched the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000, which means that the former Bolton Wanderers and Udinese player knows what he is talking about.
Given United’s lack of top-class centre-backs, Benatia is someone that the Manchester outfit need in order to challenge for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
However, it will not be straightforward for the 20-time English champions to recruit the former Udinese star. Roma have publicly stated that Benatia will not be sold, while Bayern Munich and Arsenal are also reported to be sniffing around.
It is believed that Roma are holding out for a transfer fee of €40 million (£32m), but may be happy with €30m (£24m). Whether United can willing to cough up that much cash remains to be seen.