Sunday, August 14, 2022

Manchester United Prepare €40m Bid For Sporting Centre-Back: The Ideal Defensive Target For Ten Hag?

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Pratik Das
The youngest member of The 4th Official and an ardent Premier League fan who is basically obsessed with scouting young talents and is consumed by the idea of finding the perfect number 10.

Recent reports from Portuguese media outlet A Bola (via Daily Express) state that Manchester United are keen on signing Sporting Lisbon defender Goncalo Inacio in the upcoming transfer window as Erik Ten Hag looks set to add to his options in defence ahead of the 2022/23 season.

The Red Devils have prepared an offer in the region of €40 million (plus €5m in bonuses) to lure him to Old Trafford amid strong interest from fellow Premier League clubs Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 20-year-old centre-back’s present contract at Jose Alvalade Stadium runs until 2026, but Sporting could sell him for a reasonable fee due to their rebuild plans.

Manchester United are also keeping tabs on Matthijs de Ligt, Pau Torres and Jurrien Timber.

Sporting Lisbon's Goncalo Inacio
Sporting Lisbon’s Portuguese defender Goncalo Inacio (L) fights for the ball with Arouca’s Brazilian forward Andre Silva during the Portuguese league football match between Sporting CP and FC Arouca at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on March 5, 2022. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Having come through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon itself, Goncalo Inacio broke into the first team during the 2020/21 season and has established himself as a crucial part of Ruben Amorim’s side. Over the course of the last two seasons, the youngster has made 70 appearances for the Leoes, bagging twelve goal contributions across all competitions.

Even this season, the highly-rated centre-back managed to put up some awe-inspiring numbers on the board – averaging 1.4 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 2.4 clearances, and 4.4 long balls per 90 minutes in the Portuguese top-flight. Although his team came second in the race for the Primeira Liga title, it would be fair to say that the youngster had a brilliant individual season (with an average WhoScored rating of 7.00). Furthermore, with Champions League experience under his belt, the left-footed ball-winning centre half seems like the ideal cut-price alternative to Pau Torres, Alessandro Bastoni, or Lisandro Martinez.

The Ideal Defensive Target For Ten Hag?

The lack of quality in either centre-back position has caused immense damage to Manchester United’s ambitions for the season, with Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, and Victor Lindelof dropping average performances even on their best day. If a deal for Jurrien Timber or Pau Torres fails to go through, signing Inacio should be the board’s topmost priority, especially given the experience he has for his age.

At 20, the Portuguese ace has some of the best years ahead of him, so it won’t be a surprise if he adds an entirely new dimension to United’s dynamic at the back next season.

(Stats from WhoScored)

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