Throughout the summer transfer window, Manchester United have been linked with Benfica centre-back Ezequiel Garay.
However, the proposed transfer would be entirely worthless for United, and having him in the squad would cause more harm than good to the team.
Manchester United already have five capable centrebacks in their squad, each with significant first-team experience. They have two experienced world-class defenders in Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, one very capable backup who was a United youth graduate in Jonny Evans, and two younger players with the capacity to play for United regularly in the future, namely Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
One could argue that the era of Vidic and Ferdinand is coming to an end, and that it is necessary to buy a new centre-back to fill in for them, but the reality of the situation is that Ferdinand and Vidic are still world-class centre-backs who have little resale value.
The only logical solution is to continue to play them as often as possible.
It is a valid point, however, that Ferdinand and Vidic cannot play every game.
There needs to be somebody waiting in the wings for an opportunity to play that is nearly as capable as the starter himself.
Many seem to think that Garay would be the person to fill this role, but those people seem to forget that Jonny Evans exists.
Last season, when Vidic was unable to play in many of the season's league games, Jonny Evans started in 21 of United's 38 games.
He may have been involved in some own goals, but his defensive work was otherwise quite tidy last season, in which he committed very few fouls.
He even contributed to the team effort going forward by scoring some goals. While he may not be regular starting material for United in the present or the future, he is without a doubt good enough for a backup role.
Even if it is fully established that Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evans deserve the roles that they have in the team, there would still be United fans who advocate for another backup centre-back to be bought. This, however, would be blocking the progress of one of United's most important players.
While Chris Smalling might never become world-class even under perfect circumstances, if Phil Jones plays consistently for United in the centre-back position, he will.
Sir Alex Ferguson stated that Phil Jones could become one of United's best ever players, and while that may be an overestimation of his potential (it could certainly be argued), one cannot doubt that Jones has the ability to be a starter for United in the future.
If Garay were signed, Jones would have far fewer opportunities to play at centre-back for the first team.
United's centre-back position is full at the moment. Not only do they have two great starters, but they have a reliable backup and a wonderkid yearning for more game time. If injury strikes, Smalling is capable of filling in.
In addition, Garay is nearly 27, which means that he certainly wouldn't improve from the point where he is at (a slight downgrade from Vidic and Ferdinand), and that he would not be a long-term solution to United's centreback position. In fact, he would block a long-term solution.
Buying Garay would not be improving United's centre-back position by very much, and it would be spending a lot of money on de-investing in United's future.
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