Manchester United supporters are somewhat looking forward to the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, which for their side kicks off under the lights at Old Trafford on Friday evening.
Jose Mourinho’s men go into the campaign off the back of recording their highest position since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, what with the Red Devils finishing second behind champions Manchester City last term. Yet the staggering 19-point gap between the two sides suggests that United aren’t really much closer to winning their first Premier League title in the post-Ferguson era, and as such some big additions over the summer were surely needed to bridge the gap this time round.
And while the arrival of Fred is sure to help Mourinho in that quest, that was as good as it got for the Red Devils boss, who saw the club reportedly opt against going after Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld, despite the fact that he was one name on Mourinho’s transfer wish-list.
And while this is sure to come as a big blow to the Portuguese, chief executive Ed Woodward and the club’s hierarchy may well have been right to go against Mourinho’s wishes and opt out of a move for the 83-times Belgium international.
Ultimately, 29-year-old Alderweireld has proven to be one of the best centre backs in the Premier League since he first graced English football back in 2014, to the point that he was signed by Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs just 12 months later.
And in helping the North Londoners to the best defensive record in the division in the 2015/16 season, and then again the campaign after, it’s clear the influence the Belgian star had on the Tottenham backline in those years, prompting many to label him the best defender in the Premier League.
As such, one may wonder why Woodward and co. opted against moving for the 29-year-old, yet his injury troubles last season, the hefty price-tag, and indeed the lack of long-term value makes their decision very shrewd indeed.
Alderweireld may well have started the season well for Pochettino’s side, but a hamstring injury suffered against Real Madrid in the Champions League back in November, for all intents and purposes, brought his season to a premature conclusion – he appeared just five times after that.
As such, it has been quite some time since we last saw the 29-year-old perform at the lofty level we have come to associate with him, and given he will turn 30 in March next year, it’s difficult to know exactly how many years he has left at the peak of his powers.
Add in the substantial amount of money Tottenham were reportedly seeking for the defender, and luring the Belgian star to Old Trafford would have been something of a gamble, and not one with the long term in mind.
At least the reported interest in Leicester City’s Harry Maguire, who enjoyed a fine season at the King Power Stadium in statistically performing better (see below) than Spurs’ Alderweireld, had an element of longevity about the move, even if it was likely brought about by his excellent exploits for England at the World Cup.
Yes, undermining Mourinho by opting against pursuing his transfer targets is sure to concern United supporters, but Woodward and the club’s board may well have a point when it comes to not wanting to splash out an extortionate figure on a player that only played 14 times last season, and will turn 30 next year.
Thus, the club’s hierarchy were right to go against Mourinho’s demands by not pursuing a deal for the Tottenham centre back.
United fans… what do you think? Let us know!