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Monday, July 15, 2024

After Branthwaite: Man Utd target £50m PL ace who’d star next to De Ligt

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It’s not exactly been the most guarded secret at Manchester United this transfer window that the Red Devils want to add Jarrad Branthwaite to their ranks, as the Premier League giants continue to chase the Everton ace’s signature. As per Fabrizio Romano, the Toffees are holding out for a bid in the region of £65m-£70m to even consider letting their star centre-back move on, with this expected to be a saga that continues to drag on across the transfer window. Other defensive targets are also being worked on in the red part of Manchester, with Matthijs De Ligt being targeted from Bayern Munich according to reports, alongside another new face being talked about to strengthen at left-back. Man United looking at surprise move According to a report by the Daily Mail, the Red Devils are looking at Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell to add numbers to the back four this summer, with Luke Shaw in need of some competition at the Theatre of Dreams. With a move for Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee also in the pipeline – as per the same report – it could be a much-changed XI at Erik Ten Hag’s disposal this forthcoming campaign, as the Dutchman looks to prove doubters wrong who wanted him to be dismissed from the Man United dug-out. Chilwell would also have plenty to prove if he was to don a Red Devils jersey shortly, with the former Leicester City man falling down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge owing to injury problems, having only made 13 top-flight appearances last season. Still, Ten Hag will hope he can get the best out of Chilwell again if he does relocate to Old Trafford, with the potential for the 27-year-old to strike up a formidable partnership with De Ligt at the back down the line. What De Ligt and Chilwell can offer Man United The Dutch defender could lean on the Englishman’s experience of the division to help navigate his tricky first few months in the Premier League, with Chilwell also once a regular starter on the International stage for England, off the back of his Chelsea exploits, previously signing in a mega £50m deal. While De Ligt and Lisandro Martinez would operate in tandem as the central defenders, they could cover superbly well for the England international, who has proven himself to be one of the best full-backs in the country over the last few years. Both of the desired Man United transfer targets would slot straight into Ten Hag’s first-team plans next season, with Shaw displaced for Chilwell to take over, alongside De Ligt being an upgrade on the likes of Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for the Red Devils. Chilwell, who was described as “fantastic” by Frank Lampard at the top of his game for Chelsea, offers so much more than Shaw does advancing forward when at his peak, with an impressive five goals and three assists managed during his debut campaign in West London. Thus, with that offensive nature in mind, De Ligt and Co could be perfect in allowing the Chelsea gem more freedom, knowing he has able defenders behind him. Chilwell(20/21) & De Ligt (21/22) Stat (* = per 90 mins) Chilwell De Ligt Games played 27 31 Goals scored 3 3 Assists 5 1 Touches* 81.4 64.5 Accurate passes* 44.6 (82%) 48.4 (89%) Tackles* 1.6 1.1 Clearances* 1.7 3.1 Total duels won 5.1 4.6 Clean sheets 9 11 Sourced by Sofascore. Ten Hag will meanwhile hope to get a tune out of De Ligt, having previously managed him as a youngster learning the ropes at Ajax before he was catapulted to stardom. De Light also had his own injury issues playing in Bavaria last season, with his peak at Ajax making him one of the most coveted defenders in Europe once upon a time, but he did still perform in Italy too, as can be seen in his numbers from his swansong campaign in Turin above. The Dutchman in the Old Trafford hot seat has struggled to get more out of players since taking over the reins in 2022, however, with Mason Mount notably passenger-like donning a Red Devils jersey since moving from Chelsea – scoring just once. That said, in defensive areas, the two aforementioned targets have both shown the consistency to improve the Man United defence nonetheless. Conceding 29 more goals than Arsenal in league action last season, Branthwaite will be the priority purchase no doubt, but recruits such as De Ligt and Chilwell won’t turn up anyone’s noses with connections to the underperforming giants, if they become success stories. Related Ratcliffe must axe Man Utd ace who earns 4x more than Branthwaite The Man Utd man only made 12 starts last season in the Premier League.

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