Manchester United Could Give Up Smalling & Move For This Serie A Defender: Wise Move For Ole?

According to a recent report by Corriere Dello Sport, Manchester United are determined to secure the services of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and are willing to sanction Chris Smalling’s permanent departure to AS Roma in the process. The same source has mentioned that the Red Devils could also allow Smalling to join Arsenal if he decides to seal a move back to his homeland and stay close to his family after the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Koulibaly’s Dominance In Italian Football

Either way, Koulibaly will undoubtedly be seen as an upgrade over Smalling despite the English defender’s impressive loan spell at the Stadio Olimpico this season. Similarly, the Napoli centre-back has enjoyed another solid campaign in the Serie A and has been responsible for putting in several dominant displays for them so far. He has featured in 21 matches for the Naples outfit this term, earning a total of 1758 minutes of playing time across all competitions. Multiple injuries have hampered his progress over the past eight months, but that hasn’t stopped the Serie A defender from performing well on the field.

However, Koulibaly has been quite resolute defensively after averaging 2.5 tackles, 1.2 interceptions and 3.5 clearances per 90 minutes in league football and the UEFA Champions League this season (stats via whoscored). The numbers prove that the Senegal international has successfully managed to maintain his form and perform at a high level even when his team has collectively struggled to get over the line.

The former FC Metz talent is the current captain of the Senegalese national team, having secured 33 senior caps for them thus far. The 28-year-old could go down the history as one of his country’s greatest ever players if he can lead them to success in the next edition of the African Cup of Nations which is set to kick-off in the summer of 2021.

What Will The Senegal Skipper Bring To The Theatre Of Dreams?

Koulibaly can use his strength to overpower the opposition in the air, which makes him such a commanding presence at both ends of the field. He is undoubtedly a threat from set-pieces but will be a slight concern for Man United following an injury-plagued season in Naples. Even then, the pros outweigh the cons of signing him. The Senegalese powerhouse can time his tackles well that allows him to make some critical interceptions at the back. He is also not shy of clearing his lines when under severe pressure from the opposition.

Smalling Out, Koulibaly In: Wise Move For The Red Devils?

Furthermore, he will be an excellent fit for Man United’s style of play as he can pass the ball well out from the back. He has made 89.3% of his attempted passes in the Italian first division this season (stats via whoscored). Giving up Smalling to make room for Kalidou Koulibaly seems like a wise move for the Red Devils as it will give them a chance to compete for trophies immediately, especially if Solskjaer can back it up with a few more quality acquisitions this summer.

The ex-Ligue 1 defensive ace will be expected to increase the quality of the Man United backline by forming a solid partnership with Harry Maguire at the centre of Solskjaer’s defence. Thus, it makes a lot of sense for the Mancunian giants to go all-in on Koulibaly before the start of the new campaign so that they can bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City in the coming years.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.