In my mind what Manchester United need more than anything else this summer, is a centre-back who will become the player than Nemanja Vidic used to be. One look at David Moyes’ current squad can highlight an unprecedented amount of flaws, but it’s the central defenders berth where the alarm bells ring loudest.
A number of candidates have been drafted in recent weeks, all of whom are deemed ideal in different ways when it comes to filling the void Vidic will leave behind when he departs for pastures new at the end of the season.
Two who are currently standing out from the rest of the field are Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay and Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala. Both men have been scouted a number of times by representatives from United, and either man would be the type of blockbuster buy that Moyes’ weak back line is calling out for.
However, whilst they may boast perhaps more experience in European competition, neither would fit better than another man Moyes is said to be taking into consideration; Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen.
In my mind whoever comes into the United squad this summer needs to arrive with the guarantee that they will hit the ground running.
With the best will in the world an overseas import can’t promise that. As has been proven at frequent intervals over the last decade, England’s top flight is simply too much of a step up from the continental leagues for many players to handle.
With Vertonghen Moyes would be acquiring an established centre-half who has already adapted to the rigours of the Premier League, and is heralded as one of the most competent ball-playing central defenders in the modern game.
Though Tottenham would be loathe to let him go, it’s a pretty safe bet that United, with their rumoured financial war chest, would be able to put enough money on the table to ensure that the idea of remaining loyal to White Hart Lane looks like a second-best option.
Of course then there’s the added bonus of Vertonghen’s age. At 26 he has plenty of years at the top left in him, and, still to hit his peak, the idea that he could be fashioned into a senior member of the squad fairly quickly could factor into Moyes’ decision.
Put plainly, Mangala and Garay may be exotic, promising and wanted by other clubs, but history would dictate that there’s no substitute from proven Premier League pedigree.
It’s for this reason predominantly that United should look to make Vertonghen a priority purchase once the summer transfer window rolls around.
At Spurs he has very much lived up to his billing as an assured defender who is as comfortable on the ball as he is off it, and he’d be a certified upgrade on the current back-up Moyes boasts in the form of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand.
Would it be an easy steal from an ambitious Tottenham squad? Most definitely not. However you’d think that the difficult task of luring him away would be more than recompensed by the influence he could have on United’s fortunes next season.