When Jose Mourinho walked through the Old Trafford door, he identified four key areas in which he needed to strengthen to take Manchester United back to the top. A World Class forward check, a top notch midfielder check, a playmaker check and a promising young defender check.
However there maybe one further key area that needs addressing before the summer transfer window slams shut and that area remains at centre-back.
Whilst united may be somewhat strong in numbers in central defence, they lack a true experienced centre half who has been there, done it and wore the t-shirt and with new signing Eric Bailly departing for the African Cup of Nations in January, it makes signing a new centre-back ever more a priority. Brining a centre-back in who matches the requirements above could well be the difference between winning and losing at the end of the season.
We take a look at five possible centre-backs that could potentially make the switch to Old Trafford.
Jose Fonte, Southampton. Age 32
With Mourinho reportedly on the lookout for a new centre-back, Southampton’s Jose Fonte is said to be right at the top of the Portuguese wanted list.
Having joined the Saints all the way back in 2009, Fonte has become an integral part of the Southampton side. His magnificent displays on the field over the years led to Fonte been handed the captains armband in 2014.
Should Fonte make the move to Old Trafford, he would bring with him not only Premier League experience but international experience too. Despite on paper being a centre-back, Fonte also has an eye for goal. Over his entire career, the Portuguese has managed to score a mighty impressive fifteen goals. For years since now since the days of Nemanja Vidic, the club have lacked anyone from the back who has a real goal threat in them. In signing Fonte he would bring just that, a goal threat from the back.
He may not necessarily be a first team regular for Mourinho, but he could still play an essential role for the side this season when called upon. It’s a deal that has more than a chance of happening and a deal that could be done sooner rather than later.
Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus. Age 29
Reportedly a top transfer target of Chelsea, Leonardo Bonucci is one of Europe’s most sought after centre-backs.
Throughout his stay at the Italian giants, Bonucci has become a consistent figure in and amongst the Juventus side, playing a key role in the clubs recent title triumphs.
In Singing Bonucci he would bring us exactly what we are currently lacking, experience and leadership from the back. Primarily known for his superb technique on the ball and passing range, he also has the ability to launch an attack from the back with his long passing.
Should Bonucci make the move to the theatre of dreams, the likelihood is that the Italian would go straight into Jose Mourihno’s starting eleven without any hesitation. At twenty nine years old, Bonucci still has two to three if not more of his best years ahead of him and if a deal could be reached then it would put the club in great stead for the next few years.
Raphael Varane, Real Madrid. Age 23
He may be the youngest of our chosen candidates, but in what Varane may lack in age, he more than makes up for in quality.
Varane has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford and with reports this summer suggest that a deal to bring the French international to united could be on the cards, Varane could be wearing the colour red by the end of this summer transfer window.
The twenty three year old has already played under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, where the young centre-back became a consistent figure in the Madrid starting eleven under the Portuguese reign. Since Mourinho’s departure at the Bernabu back in 2013, Varane has continued to flourish in the Spanish capital.
In singing Varane, Manchester United would be getting an already established top notch centre-half whose best years are ahead of him. However whether united can persuade Madrid to let go of one their star men remains to be seen. It would no doubt be a long hard road to sign Varane, but it’s one that’s worth at least giving it a go.
Thiago Silva. Paris-Saint Germain. Age 31
Having previously held the title of been the world’s most expensive defender, Brazilian Thiago Silva is no stranger when it comes to handling pressure.
Throughout his stay in the French capital, Silva has endured great success on the pitch, winning four Ligue one championships, two Coupe De France and three Coupe de la ligues.
Despite heading into the latter stages of his footballing career. Signing Silva could still prove a real coup for Manchester United. The experience of being a winner at PSG combined with his international experience with Brazil makes it a very attractive prospect for both parties.
Whether the French side would be willing to let their star defender go is another question entirely. They would no doubt demand a significant fee for the player, but in the long run it could well be worth it for united.
Ricardo Carvalho, Free agent. Age 38
At thirty eight years of age, Manchester United or any club for that matter would be taking a massive gamble in signing the Portuguese centre-back. However it could be a gamble that may prove to be worth taking.
Released from Monaco back earlier in August, Carvalho is currently a free agent and with the vast amount of experience he carries, you would be a fool not to at least have a look at signing him.
Having already played under Mourinho back in his Chelsea days, Carvalho quickly became one of Jose’s finest singings of his managerial career. The Portuguese centre-half formed a superb partnership at the back with John Terry which later played an essential role in the blue’s back to back Premier League Title successes.
If Mourinho wishes to reunite old flames as it where and link up with Carvalho once again, it may prove to be a significant signing for the club. Yes his best days are behind him, but he could still do a job for Manchester United even now and with the centre-back available for next to nothing, it is a gamble that is more than worth taking.