Manchester United are still looking to sign a host of defenders in the summer transfer window.
The defensive positions have been the key weakness for United this term, with Louis van Gaal’s reserved style of play incorporated to take the pressure of them.
Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Antonio Valencia have failed to put in a good performance between them this season, and although Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo have impressed, it has not been consistent enough to make up for everyone else deficiencies.
The Red Devils were expected to sign a number of defenders last summer following van Gaal’s arrival, and once again in the January transfer window, but the Galacticos approach saw a host of attacking players arrive with Shaw and Rojo - and Bolton Under-21’s Andy Kellet - the only defenders signed.
This season has shown that there needs to be some real strengthening in the summer if United intend to return to their place challenging for the Premier League title in the coming years, whilst a strong defensive line will allow van Gaal to return to the attacking, free-flowing football that was on display at the early stages of the season. That cost United then, due to having no defensive line to trust, but, if some top quality defenders were signed, the attacking players could dominate the final third with no defensive worries.
A number of defenders have been linked with United for a transfer throughout the duration of last year, with the Mirror naming Mats Hummels, Nevan Subotic and Diego Godin as potential targets. Aleksandar Dragovic was reportedly a target for the January transfer window, as per the Guardian, as well as Dutch international Bruno Martins Indi, according to the same media outlet.
However, there is a key weakness that all United’s reported targets posses that make them risky purchases, especially for the prices some will cost.
The lack of Premier League experience is something that cannot be overcome, despite all the targets being well established internationals. None have ever played in England’s top flight, and with the Red Devils intending to bulk buy defenders in the summer, it is likely that they will be fielding a completely inexperienced centre-back partnership at the start of next season.
Unlike when Nemanja Vidic moved to Old Trafford and slotted into the first-team alongside Rio Ferdinand, any new signing will have no Premier League veteran to aid them in their game. Ferdinand had already played close to 200 games in England by Vidic’s arrival, and his presence in the defensive line allowed Vidic to acclimatise to English football alongside one of the best Premier League defenders of a generation.
With Jones, Smalling and Evans all poor defenders, there is no dominating presence to work alongside a new signing in the current United squad. Unlike Chelsea, who have John Terry, and even Manchester City - with Vincent Kompany - United will be signing a new centre-back partnership with no one to ease them into English football - and it could prove to do little in the search for a return of silverware to Old Trafford.