Jose Mourinho has signed centre-backs Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof since joining Manchester United in the summer of 2016, to join Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind as options that he inherited.
Bailly has proven to be one of the top defenders in the world during his time at Old Trafford, though it has been hampered by lengthy injuries during both of his seasons so far.
Meanwhile last summer’s big defensive signing, Victor Lindelof, has failed to settle into English life and his future at the club is already under question. Phil Jones had been partnering Bailly in defence earlier this season before his season was corrupted by injuries once again. As a result, Chris Smalling has played more minutes than any of our centre-backs in the Premier League this season – arguably Jose’s fourth-choice centre-back at the start of the season.
So it comes as no surprise to hear that we’re being linked with another centre-back for when the summer transfer window opens. I don’t believe Smalling and Jones are in the boss’ long-term plans at the club so it makes sense to upgrade in this position as soon as possible.
One defender that we have been strongly linked with in recent months is Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti. The French international reportedly has a buy-out clause of €60 million (£53m) in his contract at Camp Nou and has been delaying the signing of a new contract.
The 24-year-old has increased speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United this week by failing to rule out a transfer during his latest interview.
Speaking in an interview with French outlet Telefoot, Samuel Umtiti was doing a series of questions where he was only allowed to answer “yes” or “no”, or “jokes” – meaning he wanted to avoid the question.
When asked whether he is renewing his contract with Barcelona, he responded with “joker” – the same response he used when he was asked whether he will be joining Jose Mourinho and Manchester United this summer.
Presentador: Et queden 2 anys de contracte, el Barça et vol renovar, la teva prioritat és renovar?
Presentador: Es parla de l'interès del Manchester United aquestes últimes setmanes, et podria interessar?
— Què T'hi Jugues (@QueThiJugues) March 26, 2018
It certainly sounds positive when players are avoiding easy questions to answer when they’re being linked with a move to us. The six-foot defender would certainly be an excellent acquisition at Old Trafford and a potential long-term partner to Eric Bailly in our defence. Given the money Manchester City have spent on defenders this season the price he is currently available for seems to be great value in today’s market.
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