The news this weekend has been full of criticism towards the staff at Manchester United for not strengthening the defence properly this season. Tyler Blackett was sent off as United conceded five against Leicester City on Saturday, but they had already lost four before he saw red. Louis van Gaal will likely enter the transfer market again this winter and one player he should attempt to sign is Lille OSC centre-back Simon Kjaer.
Kjaer signed for Lille last summer for less than €2 million and he was an absolute revelation at the French club. Lille recorded 21 clean sheets and held one of the tightest defences in any of the top leagues in Europe.
The Danish international had spent most of his career being labelled a star of the future, high profile moves to Wolfsburg in Germany and Palermo in Italy failed to get the best out of the centre-back and it was Lille that pounced to take advantage of the defenders drop out of the spotlight.
After a loan spell at AS Roma, Kjaer returned to Wolfsburg and made 22 appearances before making his move to Ligue 1. He was replacing huge fan-favourite, Aurelien Chedjou, in the heart of defence and no Lille fan could have predicted just how seamlessly the defender would take his place.
Beside the experienced Montenegrin defender Marko Basa, Kjaer struck up a superb partnership with the former Le Mans defender and they went on to dominate Ligue 1.
Very rarely do any of Lille’s opponents find a way in behind Kjaer. His positioning has been nothing short of superb since his arrived in northern France and his Scandinavian warrior spirit has made him a hero on the LOSC terraces.
Kjaer doesn’t rely on last ditch tackles, he reads the game well and is either dominant in the air, or times his movements perfectly to intercept or clear the danger. The performances of Kjaer and Basa help Lille’s full-back’s play high up the pitch. Ideal for Van Gaal’s preferred 3-5-2 formation. The Dane could play either in the centre, or on the right of the three. Oh, he can always hit a mean free-kick too.
Lille will always look to turn a profit, so any move from United or another Premier League side would not have to break the bank. If Lille were to look for a €10 million profit, the move still wouldn’t break the bank.
Watch for the scramble for Kjaer to heat up with every new clean sheet he manages to pick up for Lille.