Manchester United are planning to make a world-record £90m move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly according to The Sun, and he could kickstart a potential Red Devils title challenge from the back.
The 27-year-old has impressed in Serie A and the Champions League since signing from Genk in 2014 and looks like the sort of defender Jose Mourinho was trying to buy in the summer. Ed Woodward refused his request for a major defensive signing and the rest is history, so now it looks like he’s changed his mind.
It’s become clear that United lack an experienced, calm head to control the back four, even when Mourinho’s tactics didn’t leave the back four exposed. Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is at the helm and playing more attacking football, the back four needs to be as strong as it was under Ferguson.
United may have a new manager come the start of next season, but the situation won’t change. The likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly simply aren’t good enough to command a defence the fans and club are used to. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic would organise the back four to ensure United’s attacking style didn’t have to be compromised to prevent them leaking goals.
Today’s team seems a world away from this, however United’s centre-backs aren’t all that bad. Some defenders aren’t born for that leadership and organisational role and that’s fine, but they must be accompanied by someone who is if the partnership is to work.
Koulibaly has played all but two of Napoli’s Serie A games this season, 21, in a side who still champion the fast-paced, quick-passing playing style that Maurizio Sarri left behind. United aim to play as far up the pitch as possible meaning their defenders must be comfortable on the ball because they will have lots of it, the Napoli man certainly has this quality.
His experience in a well-drilled side playing attacking football could make him the defender who allows United to rekindle their attacking spark without worrying about their defensive stability.
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