Midfielder/utility-back Daley Blind’s days in the heart of Manchester United’s defence look numbered after new signing Eric Bailly’s assured performance alongside the Dutchman in the FA Cup winners’ 2-1 Community Shield victory over Leicester.
England regular Chris Smalling is due back from injury ahead of the first match of the Premier League campaign, with Blind more likely to give way than boss Jose Mourinho’s £30m first capture as Old Trafford chief.
Today’s Telegraph claims Blind, centre-half/left-back Marcos Rojo and number 10 Juan Mata head a list, along with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, that will be allowed to leave United, though the paper admits Mourinho might be stuck with the first three mentioned.
Should Blind and Rojo find more appealing situations vacant this summer, there would be nothing in the Red Devils’ centre-half ranks behind Smalling and Bailly bar permanently-injured Phil Jones, plus young pair Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair, both reportedly unfancied by the gaffer.
The Telegraph take a stab at who might fill the gap in United’s defence and come up with some interesting names, including a ghost of transfer gossip columns past who looks a particularly believable target.
Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci is the centre-half most wanted by the continent’s elite clubs this summer, but at £50m the 29-year-old doesn’t fit the price-tag of a player required to compete for a first-team spot, as opposed to one who commands such a place automatically.
With Smalling and Bailly assumed to be Mourinho’s first-choice partnership, the Telegraph’s suggestion that Zenit St. Petersburg’s Argentina international Ezequiel Garay could fill the role seems a fair shout.
Garay was sold by the Portuguese during his time as Real Madrid boss, but under very different circumstances as Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Mourinho favourite Ricardo Carvalho made for a packed central-defensive cupboard at the Bernabeu.
The 32-cap Albiceleste man, long linked with an Old Trafford move, was rumoured to be available for under £20m earlier this summer, a much more palatable fee for a player who would, in all likelihood, start off as back up.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.