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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Man Utd hold talks over £38m star who’s as good as Martinez

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It’s fair to say that Erik ten Hag’s second season in charge of Manchester United was far from ideal, with subpar performances being matched by frustrating results. There were many reasons for that, but one that cannot be overlooked was the absence of United’s Argentine rock, Lisandro Martinez. The centre back missed a huge 42 matches through injury last campaign, with his recovery often met by another setback. With the number six in mind, let’s take a look at a Man United target who could already be just as good as Martinez. Man Utd’s search for a new centre back As per a report from Fabrizio Romano’s Daily Briefing, Man Utd are considering a move for Odilon Kossounou, with talks having been held regarding a potential swoop. It’s said that a fee in the region of £38m would be enough to secure his services this summer, which is a fairly reasonable number for a player of his quality. Despite being handed a new offer, the defender hasn’t yet replied to Bayer Leverkusen, as he’s reportedly not opposed to a new adventure. However, United will face competition from other Premier League clubs for his signature, with Liverpool and Newcastle United both keen. Why Kossounou could already be as good as Martinez Ever since his move to Leverkusen in 2021, Kossounou has been a reliable performer when called upon, despite not always being in the starting eleven. Last season, the 23-year-old played an important role in Xabi Alonso’s side going unbeaten domestically while winning the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal. Kossounou started 21 times in the Bundesliga, operating as a wide right centre-back in a 3-4-3 variant, and he also featured eight times in their run to the Europa League final. It seems that based on his statistics from last season, the number six only needs a run of games to truly excel, and Man United could just provide him that opportunity. Kossounou vs Martinez 23/24 League Stats Stats (per 90) Kossounou Martinez Touches 79.51 71.05 Passes completed 63.31 57.26 Progressive passes 7.01 3.90 Progressive carries 2.39 1.11 Passes into final third 7.70 4.04 Tackles 1.49 1.67 Interceptions 1.34 0.70 Via FBref As you can see from the table above, Kossounou is already boasting fantastic numbers, with the majority even being superior to Martinez’s. Just like the World Cup winner, the right-footed ace is an extremely complete defender who has excellent technical ability and confidence on the ball. Regardless of whether they’re under pressure or have time on the ball, the first thought is how to move the ball forward, as shown by their touches and progressive statistics. However, as you can see, Kossounou absolutely wipes the floor with Martinez in that respect, even though that’s expected when the Red Devils had just over 50% possession last term. On the other hand, what makes the former Club Brugge defender “exceptional,” as dubbed by football scout Antonio Mango, is his athletic and dynamic ability while clearly having defensive solidity, which would make him perfect alongside Martinez. Given that United struggled with transitions last season, having a centre back that is comfortable defending wide zones and 1v1 scenarios is vital, and Kossounou’s experience of playing as a wide centre back would lend himself nicely to those tasks. Overall, signing Kossounou could prove to be an excellent purchase this summer, particularly if he can perform anywhere near the level of Martinez. Related

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