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Friday, December 3, 2021

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Europa League winner being linked with £69m Manchester United move is equally alarming and understandable

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Sevilla centre back Jules Kounde, according to reports in Spain.

Spanish outlet AS are reporting that the Spanish side are concerned United could trigger the Europa League winner’s £69million release clause in the January transfer window.

The UEFA Nations League winner was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in the summer, but a move didn’t materialise.

Sevilla Cf V Lille Osc - Uefa Champions League - Group G
(Photo By Joaquin Corchero/Europa Press via Getty Images)

United didn’t move for the 22-year-old as we signed his more experienced compatriot Raphael Varane instead.

But amid a terrible start to the season, could Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be looking to resolve the club’s wretched defensive record by unleashing an all-French centre back partnership at the Theatre of Dreams?

Kounde links worrying but make sense

Sevilla FC v Lille OSC: Group G - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

United have conceded more goals (17) than any other side in the top half of the Premier League, so far this season. We last got a Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford in March.

In Harry Maguire, Varane, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, Manchester United have spent £175m on centre backs. Add Phil Jones to the mix for good measure and that takes United’s outlay to over £190m.

And what have we got to show for it? The answer, not a lot.

With scrutiny around Maguire’s below-par performance since the Euros intensifying and his ability to captain Manchester United being questioned, the former Leicester City man hasn’t had the impact that Virgil van Dijk has had at Anfield.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League
(Photo by Daniel Chesterton/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

His hefty £80m (BBC Sport) price tag is always going to bring that comparison to Liverpool’s lynchpin.

Bailly can put a string of world class performances together, but his injury record and his reckless moments, as he recently showed in the Manchester derby have counted against him.

Lindelof too often gets bullied and his physical vulnerabilities often get exposed.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

It’s far too early to make an assessment on Varane, who has had an injury-ravaged start to in life in Manchester.

But if it doesn’t work out with the World Cup winner then where do we turn?

The hope is that Varane overcomes his injury issues and establishes himself as United’s commanding defender.

But with United’s other centre back options struggling for form and simply not good enough to help the club challenge for major trophies, maybe a move for Kounde does make sense.

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-MAN UTD
(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

At the age of 22 and with the versatility to play at right-back, Kounde has the pace and strength to dominate the opposition’s strikers.

Similar to Varane, he is comfortable in possession and last season he chipped in with four goals to his name.

With two full seasons under his belt at Sevilla and five international caps to his name for France, Kounde is ready for a big-money move.

In all five of his appearances for Les Bleus, Kounde has played alongside Varane, so the pair have already started to establish a connection with one and other.

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-MATCH35-POR-FRA
(Photo by LASZLO BALOGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

If Solskjaer were to pursue a move for Kounde, then it could see Bailly, who is the club’s fourth choice centre back either moved on, or possibly even used as part of the Kounde deal with Sevilla.

With Sevilla currently sitting bottom of their Champions League group and even at risk of not dropping down to the Europa League, the Spanish giants may be tempted to cash in on their prized asset come the New Year, to mitigate their financial losses for crashing out of Europe early.

United have spent a ridiculous amount of money on centre backs and look no better for it, but maybe it is time to double down, a Varane and Kounde partnership could be the answer.

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