Unless you have been living under a rock, by now you should know Manchester United are looking to sign a new centre-back. Despite having decent depth at the position, The Red Devils do not appear to have a true n.° 1 defender on their current squad. And despite the managerial change from last month, the priorities haven’t changed and Manchester United remain open to add “at least” one defender during the January transfer window.
There have been many players linked with the Old Trafford side, but it seems three players sit at the top of the shortlist. Oddly, all three currently feature in the Italian Serie A: Kostas Manolas (AS Roma), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) and Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina). But considering Manolas’ issues with the release clause, Koulibaly seems to be the main target, while Milenkovic is the reported “Plan B” if United can’t sign the Senegalese.
But who would fit best at Old Trafford? Let’s take a quick look and compare both players.
Age + Experience
It’s often said that signing young players allows teams to build a sustainable long-term core. However, that shouldn’t apply to Manchester United. The Red Devils are only a few players from being a true title contender, so they should target players that would help the team win right now. And while both would fit that mold, Koulibaly would be the safer choice. Already tested at the highest level in the Serie A, the Senegal international could step right away and contribute.
Milenkovic, on the other hand, should probably need at least a few months to adjust to life in England. It’s one thing to play for Fiorentina, and it’s another completely different one to feature at Old Trafford and in the Champions League. But that shouldn’t be the only factor to take into consideration.
Money should be something to consider as well. And in that department, there’s no question that Milenkovic gets the edge. Koulibaly would cost at least €70 million… and that’s the floor to start talks with Napoli. Milenkovic would be considerably cheaper. But is this the moment for United to start looking at “cheap players”? Based on how the market has behaved of late, there’s one huge lesson to be learned. To win, teams must be willing to spend big. And that’s what United need to do. Especially on a key position such as the centre-back one.
Why would we waste words in explaining how both players play, when we can watch them? First, we have Koulibaly…
…and second, we have Milenkovic:
Both players would be great additions, there’s no doubt about it. But if The Red Devils want to win right now and bolster their defence immediately, then Koulibaly looks like the best alternative.