Some major rebuilding is needed at Old Trafford this summer, starting at the heart of the defence.
The seventh edition of the Unofficial Football Index Weekly magazine titled ‘Defense For Ollie’ is out now and can be viewed in full via Twitter @ FI_WeeklyMag.
The 27th of December 2017 might not mean much more than the Christmas holidays for most people, but in Liverpool’s history it could turn out to be one of the most significant.
For this was the day that the club broke the world record transfer fee for a defender: £75m on Virgil van Dijk (£3.00).
Van Dijk could be the turning point for Liverpool
Defenders don’t always get their fair share of credit, with praise and awards continuously aimed at those coveted stars who score the goals as opposed to stopping them.
The Dutchman’s arrival at Anfield has been a turning point for the club, reaching successive Champions League finals as well as 97 points in the league.
Such has been his impact, talk is snowballing that van Dijk could – deservedly – become only the fourth defender to be named the world’s best player.
He is not the sole reason behind Liverpool’s recent success, yet he is certainly a case study into the importance of solid defenders.
Fans will always remember the goals scored by successful teams, yet those teams are always built on a solid defence.
As the late, great Bobby Moore once said:
‘If you don’t concede any goals, you’ll win more games than you lose.’
Liverpool’s fierce rivals across the M6 could certainly learn from them.
Manchester United’s defence is the problem.
However strong the hatred, Manchester United fans must surely look on with begrudging admiration, resentfully and jealously wishing their defence looked better than, with all due respect, Phil Jones (£0.30) and Chris Smalling(£0.26).
It’s not as though the club lack the money: they’ve had one of the highest transfer outlays in recent seasons.
Its the failure to address the problems in their backline has contributed to their recent struggles.
As anticipated, a new central defender seems to be their number one target this summer, yet such recruitment hasn’t been straightforward.
Harry Maguire has been courted since last summer’s World Cup heroics, though a fee in the region of £80m is proving difficult to justify.
A player who could seemingly justify that price tag based on both his current and potential ability would be in-demand wonderkid Matthijs de Ligt (£3.09).
However, it is unlikely he would choose the Red Devils over Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain who look in pole position; a sorry state of United’s falling stature in recent years.
Is Maguire or Diop Trafford bound?
There is no smoke without fire, and it would almost be surprising to see Maguire still at Leicester come the end of the transfer window, but there could yet be a curveball in this unwinding transfer saga.
This week, the club have seemingly turned their attentions to West Ham’s Issa Diop. With the previous manager Jose Mourinho praising the 22-year-old as ‘a monster who dominated everything in the duels.’
Diop has shown fantastic promise in adapting to the Premier League and would be available for far cheaper with a rumoured £45m bid set to be tabled.
Manchester United currently look lost as a team; confused by the transition under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. After such a dominating start to his tenure, the season fizzled out with an underwhelming end.
There is a lot of work to do to get the club competing for titles again and be it Maguire, de Ligt, Diop or someone else, the rebuilding job will be a long and arduous task.
It’s not all doom and gloom for United, however.
It looks as though the club is ready to press ahead with the signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£2.32), who has enjoyed an excellent breakthrough season at Crystal Palace, in an attempt to address all areas of their defensive unit.
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw (£0.73) is still young enough to near the levels once expected of him.
It’s certainly the early stages, but these foundations will be vital in making United great once again.