Who is the best option at centre-back with Harry Maguire?

Manchester United are in dire need of a top-quality centre-back. Since the departure of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, arguably the greatest centre-back partnership in the Premier League, United have struggled in defence.

It seemed apparent on Saturday Night, during our draw to Everton, that the centre of our defence is shaky and inconsistent.

Club-captain Harry Maguire seems to be the constant in defence, playing the most minutes out of any player in Europe last season. There are questions being asked whether he is truly good enough to play for Manchester United and thus wear the Captain’s armband.

If United are to really challenge for titles, let alone this season, Woodward must bring in a top-quality centre-back.

In contrast, our full-backs, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are having excellent seasons.

Victor Lindelof

Manchester United signed the Swedish Victor Lindelof from Benfica in 2017 for £31.5m.

The “ice-man” has played in 141 appearances for United, scoring 3 goals and providing 3 assists, keeping 29 clean sheets in the Premier League.

Lindelof has shown signs of being a quality defender. His partnership with Maguire has been used the most under Ole’s management. Although this is partly because of Bailly’s tendency to be injured, Lindelof is certainly the most consistent out of current options at centre-back.

Victor Lindelof scored at the back-post during our devastating scoring spree against Leeds
Lindelof scored the fourth goal for United against Leeds in our 6-2 thrashing of our bitter rivals. Source: vbetnews.com

Lindelof is comfortable on the ball, has a good range of passing and has decent pace. Unlike his partner Maguire, he lacks the aerial prowess of the top centre-backs in the world, Ramos and Van Dijk.

Eric Bailly

The Ivorian joined the Red Devils from Villareal in July 2016 for £34m.

The “beast” has appeared in 96 matches for the Red Devils, scoring once and keeping 23 clean sheets in the Premier League.

Injuries have hindered Bailly’s first-team football, missing 71 games through injury. His most prominent injury was on his knee, forcing a surgery which put him out of action for half-a-year.

Bailly is not as consistent as Lindelof, he has a history of recklessness (15 yellow cards and 3 red cards) and silly mistakes which have led to goals.

Eric Bailly celebrating United's victory against Aston Villa
Bailly celebrating United’s 2-1 home win against Aston Villa. Source: United in Focus

Bailly offers brilliant pace for a CB, skill under pressure and aerial prowess.

He is the best suited centre-back alongside Maguire out of our current defenders, he compliments Maguire’s lack of speed and ball-playing ability.

Axel Tuanzebe

Our young English defender is a product of our fantastic youth system. Rising through the academy, Axel Tuanzebe has had two spells at Aston Villa.

Tuanzebe has appeared in a United shirt 31 times at senior level. He has not contributed a goal or assist but has shown promise elsewhere on the pitch.

His most impressive performance came in our first Champions League group game against PSG. Tuanzebe played RCB in a back 5, facing up against Kylian Mbappe.

He showed his class, matching Mbappe for pace and strength. As a result of his performance, United won in Paris, just two years after our heroics in the last 16.

Tuanzebe ‘pocketed’ Mbappe in our group-stage match. Source: thesun.ie

David de Gea’s commented after the game; ““He did really well; I’m really happy for him. He’s had difficult moments with the injuries, so he now he showed today that he is capable of playing big games.”

“Zubee” is lightning fast, strong in the air and good on the ball.

New centre-back Signing?

United are linked to many centre-backs. David Alaba, Nathan Ake, Sergio Ramos, Dayot Upamecano, Ben White, Pau Torres are just a few names that have been linked with the Red Devils.

Recent rumours have surfaced that Sergio Ramos’s agent will travel to Manchester next week to finalise a deal. It will lead to Ramos leaving this summer on a free transfer.

Although this rumour is unsubstantiated and not credible, United fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing Ramos in a United shirt. Above all, Ramos will bring a wealth of experience, leadership and quality to the United dressing room.

Sergio Ramos has made 668 appearances for Real Madrid, scoring 100 goals. He is truly the greatest centre-back of the last decade. Source: technosports.co.in

Should Maguire be first-choice?

Harry Maguire is one of the first names on the teamsheet for United. He is our current club captain, despite only signing in 2019.

Questions have been asked over his leadership, people have wondered if Bruno Fernandes should take the armband or maybe Scott McTominay.

Maguire can be a top-quality centre-back, he showed in the World Cup in 2018 and also for Leicester that he is a goal-threat and also a dominating figure in defence.

However, his lack of pace and mobility have come under scrutiny as they have led to easy goals. For example Steven Bergwijn last season.

I do not think that Maguire should be first-choice or captain for United. There are plenty of other leaders in the dressing room that affect the game more. It is imperative that United sign a new centre-back in the Summer, Dayot Upamecano is my ideal choice.

Author: Ben Grenier

Aspiring sports journalist, Manchester United supporter. 18 years old taking my gap year, hoping to provide quality writing to gain experience. Twitter is @BrpGsports

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