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Erik ten Hag admires Sporting Lisbon centre-back Goncalo Inacio

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is said to be an admirer of Sporting Lisbon defender Goncalo Inacio, according to Portuguese outlet Correio da Manha (today’s edition, page 11).

The Red Devils have been touted to sign a new central defender this summer, and it has recently emerged that Jurrien Timber is the prime transfer target.

Talks are reportedly underway with Ajax over a potential transfer, but the Red Devils are also deemed to be monitoring Inacio, who has caught the eye of Ten Hag.

The Dutch tactician is understood to ‘appreciate the characteristics’ of the 20-year-old and believes he has ‘qualities to impose himself in English football’.

Meanwhile, Inacio is ‘calm’ and ‘comfortable’ at Sporting, but knows that playing for a club of United’s stature in the biggest league in the world, would ‘catapult him to another level’.

So far, United have yet to make a formal approach. With a contract until June 2026, Sporting are quite clear that they won’t sell him for less than his €45 million buy-out clause.

Our view:

Inacio is a left-footed central defender. He is strong with the ball at his feet, having completed over 90 per cent of his passes last season.

Aside from his distribution, the Portuguese is also good with clearing his lines. He averaged over 2.6 clearances per appearance last term.

These attributes will have impressed Ten Hag, who prefers to work with central defenders, who are efficient with their distribution.

Similar to Timber, Inacio is relatively inexperienced, but the former looks well equipped for the Premier League with his better ground work.

He averaged 2.1 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game last term, much superior to what Inacio achieved (1.2 tackles and 1 interception).

In our opinion, a move for Inacio appears unlikely unless Ten Hag wants to integrate a left-footed central defender into the squad.

Even then, there could be a higher possibility of United pursuing Villarreal’s Pau Torres, who is vastly experienced than the Portuguese.

Stats from and