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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Man Utd battling PL rivals for dream £21m Martinez partner

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Manchester United ended the 2023/24 season in perfect fashion, with a historic FA Cup final triumph over Mancunian rivals Manchester City. It was their famous academy which ultimately decided the game, with Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, both Carrington graduates, scoring the goals which won the Red Devils their 13th FA Cup. Outside of that impressive triumph, last campaign was quite bleak overall for United. The Old Trafford side did manage to qualify for European football, but through their FA Cup triumph rather than accomplishments in the Premier League; their eighth-place finish was initially not enough to secure them continental qualification. There are still question marks over Erik ten Hag’s future as manager, too. As per Tyrone Marshall of the Manchester Evening News, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team are still conducting their end-of-season review surrounding the Dutchman’s performances across the 2023/24 season. Those in charge of making the final call want to ‘make sure it is a considered decision’. Unsurprisingly, this has stalled United’s summer transfer business somewhat. Moves for the likes of Michael Olise are not progressing as they would have hoped. However, there is one player United are targeting who could be a relatively easy deal to complete. Man Utd target Ligue 1 defender The player in question here is OGC Nice and French defender Jean-Clair Todibo. The 24-year-old France international is thought to be a target for the Red Devils and could leave INEOS-owned Nice to join another of their clubs, the newest acquisition United. According to a report from L’Equipe, United are one of several clubs interested in signing Todibo this summer. The Frenchman is valued at around €25m (£21m), which is considerably less than the £55m that the French side wanted for Todibo in January. United will have to beat off interest from four other clubs in the summer if they wish to sign Todibo. Firstly, two English clubs are interested in the 24-year-old, namely Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. The report suggests that Italian side Napoli and Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid are also considering testing the waters for Todibo. Given United and Nice’s co-ownership, it might make the deal easier for the Red Devils to get over the line. However, the amount of competition makes it more complicated, and not a guarantee that United bring Todibo in this summer. Why Todibo would be a good signing Todibo was a key player for Nice last term, featuring 33 times in all competitions, with 30 of those games coming in Ligue 1. The 24-year-old helped to keep 15 out of Nice’s 17 clean sheets in the French top flight, which were the most in the division. If there is one aspect of Todibo’s game that stands out, it is his work when in possession of the ball. Football analyst H described Todibo on X as a “top technician” who is “unbelievably calm in possession”. This certainly reflects when looking at his Fbref stats. The Frenchman averages 5.09 progressive passes per 90 minutes, which places him in the top 15% of centre-backs across Europe. Not only that, he averages 75.64 passes completed per 90, which ranks him in the top 6%. The 24-year-old, who has two caps for France, is also a confident ball-carrier. He averages 76.28 carries per 90, and 1.09 progressive carries per 90. This places him in the top 2% of centre-backs and the top 17% of centre-backs across Europe respectively. Furthermore, Todibo’s 0.92 attempted take-ons per 90, and subsequent 0.54 successful take-ons per 90, rank him in the top 6% and the top 4% respectively amongst centre-backs in Europe. He oozes confidence on the ball, as his stats reflect. Defensively, the 24-year-old is a good dueller. He averages 1.97 tackles won per 90 minutes, which ranks him in the top 17% of centre-backs. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the best metric to measure centre-backs with, it still shows he is confident when making a tackle or competing for a duel. This is further proven by the 3.26 combined tackles and interceptions that Todibo averages per 90, something which ranks him in the top 19% of centre-backs. One of Todibo’s biggest strengths as a defender is ball recoveries. He is a quick defender, capable of defending wide areas well, and this is demonstrated in his very impressive ball recovery numbers. On average, the Frenchman wins 7.20 ball recoveries per 90 minutes, which places him in the top 3% among centre-backs. Statistically, his weakest area defensively comes in the air. Standing at 6 foot 2, this may come as a surprise to some, yet, Todibo’s aerial duel win rate is surprisingly poor. He wins just 1.32 aerial duels per 90 on average, which ranks him in the 13th percentile. This may not pair well with United’s first-choice left-centre-back Lisandro Martinez, who Todibo would surely partner. As per Fbref, the Argentine averaged just 1.36 aerial duels won in the 2022/23 Premier League season, which ranks him in just the 7th percentile. However, it could still be a complimentary duo. Martinez is a fantastic defender and in 2022/23, averaged 6.98 ball recoveries per 90, 2.17 blocks per 90 and 3.70 combined tackles and interceptions per 90. This placed him in the top 9%, 6% and 14% respectively amongst Premier League centre-backs. Todibo and Martinez defensive stats Stat (per 90) Todibo Martinez Ball recoveries 7.20 6.98 Tackles and interceptions 1.97 3.70 Stats from Fbref The World Cup winner is also a superb progressive passer. He averaged 0.3 through balls per 90 in the 2022/23 campaign, which ranked him in the top 1% of centrebacks. His line-breaking passes have been crucial for United, as shown in the stats. With Martinez’s supreme progressive passing and Todibo’s impressive carrying skills, it could be a defensive pairing that suits United well. Their deficiencies in the air could be an issue, but the Red Devils could hope to mask that with tall midfielders such as Scott McTominay. If this is a deal United can get over the line, they could be looking at their centre-back pairing for the next seven years in Todibo and Martinez. For a fee of just £21m, it could prove to be a superb piece of business from INEOS.

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