Is Koulibaly the missing piece of Manchester United’s puzzling defence?

Manchester United 'agree £64m deal for Kalidou Koulibaly ...
Image from Premier Bet Uganda

Today’s piece is going to revolve around Kalidou Koulibaly and what he can provide to a strengthened Manchester United defense. Now, fans might argue that United has the second-best defense in Europe after PSG, and this is displayed by the number of clean sheets they have managed this season. But the problem with this argument is the fact that we are a team who should be playing in the UEFA Champions League but are playing in the Europa League instead, which, in turn, consists of teams that are not at the level of fair comparison.

Moreover, let’s not forget that United also don’t have the most clean sheets in the Premier League either. And if this wasn’t enough to burst your bubble, here’s another startling fact – Manchester United have conceded more goals from set-pieces than any other team in the Premier League. Remember that nudge to De Gea? Or that own goal by Lindelof? Did it all flash at once? The corners, the freekicks?

Image from WhoScored

Ah, now you know what we are talking about.
So, is Koulibaly that missing piece of the puzzle that makes Manchester United one of the most feared defenses in Europe? Let’s get started –

Player Profile:

Image from The Daily Express
  • Full name: Kalidou Koulibaly
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 1.87 m. (6’1″)
  • Weight: 89 kg.
  • Preferred Foot: Right
  • Club: Napoli
  • Country: Senegal
  • Shirt: #26
  • Major Accolades: Super Coppa Italia, 2014 & Africa Cup of Nations, 2019.
  • Personal Achievements: Best Defender in the Serie A for 2018-19 season.
Now, we have heard about several rumors about Koulibaly to Manchester United but none of them have come from Tier-1 sources like Fabrizio Romano or Simon Stones. Defender was originally priced at $120 Million, and some sources suggested that deal would close at even a low 90 Million if the player found terms suitable, as he is unhappy and wants a move away from Napoli after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti. As of present, there are no rumors about the quoted price, but the club will surely agree at lower amount due to ongoing pandemic.

Playing Style:

Koulibaly is known for utilizing his physical presence as well as pace (relative to other defenders) in the game. He makes a great-set piece player and is also capable of stringing some good passes to make defence to midfield transitions. If he comes to Manchester United, I’d play him over Victor Linelof in a breath, and here are the reasons for same –
  1. As mentioned earlier, United have conceded most goals from set-pieces in Premier League this season. Victor Lindelof often becomes an easy target to be pushed over and this has been witnessed a number of times now.
  2. While Victor Lindelof is a good passer of the ball, we already have skipper (Harry Maguire) who can take care of that. What we lack is the physical presence in box during set-pieces, and Koulibaly easily scores above Lindelof in that aspect.
  3. We need a defender who can accelarate in case Harry Maguire isn’t able to recover, as it is a known fact that Harry Maguire isn’t quite the best defender when it comes to sprinting back to the position. Kalidou Koulibaly will perfectly fill that gap and make United backline even stronger.
To validate my points, I’m going to add a couple of infographics –
Image from Soccerment
This spider chart comparison clearly shows how Koulibaly is head and shoulders above Lindelof in nearly every aspect of game. It’s a no brainer that he’d bench Lindelof with immediate effect. If this wasn’t enough, we have got another infographic that debunks why Koulibaly is a better fit for the team than his counterpart –
Image from Soccerment
Here, Lindelof ‘s contribution is represented by Green while Koulibaly by Blue. Be it Attack, Build-up, or Defense, Koulibaly dominates over Lindelof in every aspect of the game, clearly stating that he is a better player.
If you have read till here, you already have an idea how I’m going to conclude. Now, don’t get me wrong. Lindelof is a great player to have, but if Kalidou Koulibaly comes to the Manchester United, he’ll clearly walk over Victor Lindelof in the first team without slightest of the doubts.

Author: TUD Author