Manchester United remain interested in Argentine centre-back Nicolas Otamendi and sent chief Spanish scout Carlos Ruiz to watch him during Valencia’s victory over Elche in La Liga last Friday.
According to information in the Daily Mail Louis van Gaal is stepping up his search for a new centre-back ahead of what could be a busy summer transfer window, and although the idea that he will move for Mats Hummels is commonplace, fans might be surprised that Otamendi is still on the radar.
The 27-year-old was coveted by a host of Premier League clubs last year, United included, but eventually ended up departing FC Porto for Valencia. His transfer to the Mestalla saw him handed a contract with a release clause standing at a whopping £37 million, and this term he’s looked impressive in the heart of Los Che’s back-line.
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Now, as Van Gaal looks towards the end of the season it appears that he is compiling a list of experienced heads that could bolster his defence. The trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans have looked shaky over the course of this campaign, and though they may not be flogged in the summer they probably won’t be trusted to remain the first-choice options.
The problem isn’t necessarily that they’re not good enough for the Red Devils - all three have proven that they do have quality - but it seems that a lack of real mettle and tested wisdom is making United less sturdy than they have the potential to be, and with Champions League football sure to be on the menu next term that issue needs to be solved sooner rather than later.
Whether or not Otamendi is the answer is a matter sure to split opinion, with the Argentina international more expensive that the likes of Hummels, and less experienced at the top level. If Van Gaal consents to paying £37 million for a defender he’ll expect nothing but premium service from the off, and that price-tag comes packaged with a fair amount of pressure from the stands as well.
Otamendi the answer?
Though it looks like Otamendi might be the easier option to land, particularly given Hummels’ importance to Borussia Dortmund, he probably isn’t the best with the future in mind. First of all there’s no guarantee that he’ll settle comfortably in English football anyway, and even if he does it will take a sizeable chunk out of Van Gaal’s budget to land him. To say it’s a non-starter might be wrong given Ruiz’s scouting trips, but it certainly seems unlikely.
United fans, who should Van Gaal get in the summer to strengthen his defence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...