Reports are emerging that Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has asked about the status of Marc Bartra as the former Real Madrid manager is possibly interested in signing the Borussia Dortmund defender.
The Portuguese coach has been known to be a big admirer of the 25-year-old from his time managing in Spain with Real Madrid and he was also heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford when Mourinho took over last summer before eventually ending up at Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester United are readying themselves for a possible defensive squad overhaul this summer, having already bought highly talented Victor Lindelof from SL Benfica, the club is reportedly looking for another defensive centre back.
Players like Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are widely expected to leave the club this summer. Recently, the Red Devils were also linked with Bartra’s defensive partner Sokratis Papastathopoulos along with few other top defenders in Europe.
So why is Jose Mourinho keen on bringing the former Barcelona defender to Old Trafford?
Marc Bartra was brought in to the Dortmund team in order to fill the gap left by the departing captain and key defender Mats Hummels. However, he could never manage to replace the current Bayern Munich centre back.
While Marc Bartra may not be an ideal choice considering there’s no shortage of top quality defenders available all over Europe, he certainly has some class about him. Firstly, Bartra is a top class passer of the ball.
Growing up in the Barcelona youth academy of La Masia, the 25-year-old knows every trick of how to trip the ball through the opposition defence, or play dangerous passes along the half space to the oncoming number six or number eight.
He is a prime example of a modern day centre back, who can not only defend for his side but also has the ability go forward and help out the build-up play to create more and more chances for his team.
Bartra didn’t have the greatest of starts in his Dortmund career, failing to break into the first due to a series of poor performances. However, as the second half of the season beckoned, the Catalan-born defender manned himself up for the challenge and eventually prevailed as one of the pillars of Die Schwarzgelben defence alongside Sokratis.
Bartra’s form was sensational in 2017 before he suffered an injury due to the terror bombings on the Dortmund team bus. He was the only victim of the attack which sidelined him for most period of the second half. He made his comeback in the final matchday and was honoured by the Dortmund fans and players alike.
One of his key traits as a defender, is his ability to play aggressively against stronger oppositions who like to play with possession. Bartra was crucial against Bayern Munich as he led the charge from the back. He was often seen getting out of his position to quickly snuff out some opposition passes in the half space.
He is also decent when it comes to acting doggedly as a defensive unit which is suited especially well for someone like Jose Mourinho’s gameplan. And the numbers speak for themselves. In just 19 games, Bartra has managed 60 interceptions and 60 clearances along with 7 defensive actions per game, most by any Dortmund player.
Meaning 3.46 interceptions per 90 mins, second best among all the other centre-backs in the league this season(Benedikt Howedes tops it off with 4.13) with at least 17 games played and most by any Dortmund player overall. His tally of 3.46 interceptions made per 90 mins is only bettered by Sokratis and Sven Bender, who only played six games in the league last season.
However, Bartra at times tends to struggle with positioning. He was caught out of position a lot of times this season, which eventually caused players to get behind the line and score from a counter attack. And he is also bad with his tackles. He attempts a lot of tackles but manages to win very few of it. A 35% tackles won ratio perfectly backs the statement.
All the stats are taken from the excellent Squawka.