Manchester United are still looking for defensive reinforcements in the market, and according to reports, the Red Devils have set their sights on Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
The club has recently confirmed the signing of Benfica’s defensive gem, Victor Lindelof and he was officially unveiled as a Manchester United player a couple of days back. It was initially believed that Jose Mourinho will build the next season’s defence around Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and either of Phil Jones or Chris Smalling, with Daley Blind providing a proper and versatile backup solution.
However, the recent interest in Sokratis signals the departure of at least two Manchester United defenders, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling being the top picks.
So why exactly does Jose prefer Sokratis ahead of the two experienced English defenders?
Well, simply because he is the one of the top five defenders in the Bundesliga right now. Sokratis has been a pivotal part of Dortmund’s backline ever since he arrived from Werder Bremen in 2013.
Despite a tough 2014/15 season, the 29-year-old managed to establish himself as a regular part of Dortmund’s starting eleven in the 2015/16 season. He became even more important to the Black and Yellows when Mats Hummels left the club to join rivals Bayern.
This season, Sokratis has been basically the one-man army for his team.. The traditional Greek defender was crucial to their backline, especially with the likes of Marc Bartra, Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender dreadfully underperforming, Sokratis kept the backline ticking with his immense amount of work rate and fighting spirit.
Sokratis is normally a traditional centre-back, who follows the no-nonsense philosophy of defending. He is incredibly strong and competent, perhaps one of the most strongest in the Bundesliga. A fearless warrior, and an aggressive customer, Sokratis has all the right balance to thrive as a top Premier League defender.
Moreover, the Greek International is a great leader on the pitch as well. He has lead the Dortmund backline to a DFB Cup glory this season, where Dortmund’s defence was hardly troubled thanks to the qualities of the former Bremen defender. Ever since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival as the new trainer(he’s now sacked recently), Sokratis’ ball playing abilities has been revamped and it is quite evident as well. Sokratis only averaged a 79% passing accuracy in Jurgen Klopp’s last season, but it was 89% the following season when Thomas Tuchel arrived at the club. Last season he also averaged an impressive 88% pass completion rate, which proves he’s no sledge with his passing and distribution.
Overall, Sokratis is definitely the more stellar option, hardened by years of experience with a host of top clubs in Europe, including Milan, Bremen and Dortmund. He averaged a staggering 7.8 duels won per game this season, more than any other player in the league, with a minimum 20 matches played. His tackles won ratio is fairly decent with 53% and boasts an impressive 67% headed duels.
So it’s almost needless to say, Sokratis is the clear winner here. With his loads of experience in Europe’s top clubs, he can really be a great defensive asset for Manchester United. The defensive pairing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Victor Lindelof has all the credentials of winning a Premier League trophy.
Sokratis has been known to be a really loyal and sturdy player over the years. However, in recent weeks he looked surprisingly non-committal about his future with BVB. As a Dortmund fan myself, I wouldn’t want him to leave the club as his departure would only cause more problems to Die Schwarzgelben.
Anas Ali Molla
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