Manchester United’s dismal performance in their season opener against Crystal Palace raised significant questions about their defensive capabilities. A dispirited 3-1 home defeat to the Eagles sparked many disappointed fans to express their urgent need for a new central defender. However, a new centre-back is unlikely to join Manchester United this window, according to David Ornstein of The Athletic.
United’s poor defensive display certainly does not undermine Palace’s performance on the day. The South London club were excellent in attack, with ex-United star Wilfried Zaha stealing the show. The centre-back pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof fell victim of increased criticism that came United’s way. Their lack of pace was targeted by the Eagles, who found space in behind countless times during the 90 minutes.
Manchester United Are Not Prioritising a Centre-Back Before the Window Shuts
Importance of a World-Class Centre-Back
The importance of a complete central defender has increased since Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool. His technical ability, pace and defensive awareness have all made him arguably the best centre-back in the world. His emergence into the Liverpool team has also taken the Reds from challenging for the top four to winning the Champions League and the Premier League back-to-back.
This notion of signing a world-class or a potentially world-class centre-back has materialised this transfer window. Manchester City have signed Nathan Ake from Bournemouth and are also planning on bringing in another established first-class centre-back. Arsenal have also bolstered their defensive line with the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes, while Chelsea have brought in Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain.
You could forgive Manchester United for not wanting to spend anything major on a new centre-half. Harry Maguire cost the Red Devils £80 million a little over a year ago. However, to compete with the best, it seems that a more dynamic central defender is needed at Old Trafford.
High Number of Options at Manchester United
Despite United’s perceived necessity for a new defender, the club still have a number of options in that position. Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo and Teden Mengi are all still contracted at United and could still be called upon.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is heading towards a new direction and would seemingly like to offload some of these names. If United were to make a move for what fans perceive to be a much-needed central defender, they will need to sell at least a couple of the previously mentioned defenders.
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