There has been some speculation around Old Trafford recently that José Mourinho is upset with his current defense and is looking to do an overhaul this summer. With any or all of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling likely to be shown the exit door, we take a look at which up and coming defenders would be best to replacement them to bolster the Manchester United defense and potentially be the long-term partner for Eric Bailly.
The Bayern defender can really do it all. While he is most known for his physical stature and his fearless tackling, he also boasts an impressive ball handling ability, which makes him a good partner for Bailly. Bailly is known to be more aggressive and rash than most, and while Süle may also fit that bill, Süle also has an amazing passing ability, completing more than 93% of his passes in the Bundesliga this term. With Bailly and Süle starting in the back together, United would have a couple of defenders that are ruthless in their defending, can create from the back, and would finally give the fans the defensive confidence they have been wanting.
The Brazilian international seems to be the heir to Thiago Silva’s throne in Paris, but pairing Marquinhos with Bailly might also be the dream pair United fans are hoping for. Marquinhos is more cautious and composed than Bailly is, which may actually play to his benefit. This pairing could remind United fans of what Nemanja Vidić and Rio Ferdinand used to be. While Bailly seems to play more aggressively, like Vidić, Marquinhos could fill the Ferdinand shoes with his calm and composed ball-playing style that would be the perfect one-two punch. Now, filling Vidić and Ferdinand’s iconic shoes would be no easy task, but pairing Marquinhos with Bailly could show glimpses of a partnership like this.
Giménez has been linked with United in the past, and it is to no one’s surprise. When Giménez entered the world stage just a few years ago, he was one of the hottest defensive prospects in world football. Since then, he has just proven that he is a name with which we should become familiar. Similar to Marquinhos and Silva, Giménez seems to be the heir to the Diego Godín throne in Madrid. However, signing Giménez would be a statement from Mourinho. On our list, Giménez is the most similar to Bailly, which would mean that there would be two very aggressive, and at times reckless, center backs in front of David De Gea. However, because of their aggression, Giménez and Bailly could be seen as two of the most feared center backs in world football. Attackers would come to Old Trafford knowing that there were two men in the back willing to sacrifice everything to keep a clean sheet.
Last on our list, and easily my top choice, would be Raphaël Varane. Varane was initially signed by Mourinho when he was in charge at Real Madrid and Mourinho has been an admirer ever since. Varane is truly the whole package. He is the perfect combination of brain and brawn, boasting both an ability to play the ball forward and to be a brick wall at the back. With Varane, you are getting guaranteed quality and someone who could be a leader at United for years to come. Being less aggressive than Bailly and being able to control the ball at the back makes him the perfect Bailly partner and my personal choice for whom United should pay loads of money.
There are obviously plenty of good young defenders who did not make this list. The likes of Samuel Umtiti, Alessio Romagnoli, and Stefan de Vrij would also be top picks for United, but when thinking of the potential that Eric Bailly has shown and how a solid partner for him could change the whole defensive scene at United, these are four defenders that I would love to see in a United shirt.