Lille are just one match away from achieving something few thought possible in Ligue 1 this season. Christophe Galtier’s side will be crowned French champions if they beat Angers this Sunday, dethroning Paris Saint-Germain despite a monumental financial gap between the two clubs. Sven Botman is one of the players who has carried Lille to this point.
The Dutchman has proven himself as one of the best young defenders in the European game this season. Lille have built their title challenge on a sound defensive foundation and Botman is their commander-in-chief at the back. It’s therefore unsurprising that the 21-year-old reportedly has his suitors this summer.
Liverpool and Manchester United have both been linked with a move for Botman. Both clubs are expected to enter the market for a new centre back this summer and the Dutchman ticks several boxes as a potential target. A bidding war between the two rivals for one of Europe’s best defensive prospects could ensue.
Physically, Botman boasts a frame not exactly typical for someone of his age. At 6ft 4”, he is naturally imposing, possessing the strength to match his height. Having come through the Ajax youth system, Botman is also technically comfortable on the ball, making him the perfect modern defender.
His average of 3.2 clearances per game stands as one of the highest in Ligue 1 this season. Botman has also averaged an impressive 1.6 interceptions and 3.3 aerials won per game. The Dutchman is an excellent defensive all-rounder. He has no glaring weakness for opposition forwards to exploit.
Positionally, Botman would be a good fit for Manchester United. As a left-sided centre back, he would bring some balance to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and allow Harry Maguire to shift over to his preferred role as the right-sided centre back. A partnership of Botman and Maguire would be among the most daunting in the Premier League.
At Liverpool, Botman would either have to play on the right side or act as a deputy to Virgil van Dijk. However, the appeal of playing for Jurgen Klopp would be strong. While the Reds have endured a difficult season, they will surely be more competitive after the summer once injuries clear up. The addition of Botman would be a sign of their renewed ambition.
Botman is always aware of his surroundings. He has surprising pace for someone of his physical size and knows when to stay on his feet and when to make a tackle. The Dutchman plays with the composure of someone much older than him. If Botman is this good at 21, imagine just how good he could be within a few years.
“It is a good compliment when you hear these clubs are interested,” Botman responded when recently asked about the interest in him. “I’m lying if I say it’s not interesting me. If I’m honest, the Premier League is one of the leagues I dreamed about, but also Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga.
"The Premier League is something special. It’s the football I really like and that fits me. The style of play, the emotion; I really like to see the fans with such big emotions in the stands. It is a beautiful competition I really like to watch and did for pretty much all my life.”
Ligue 1 glory would be symbolic of how far Botman has come in just one season. The Dutchman hasn’t just proven himself in a title race, but in the Europa League as well. The 21-year-old has handled everything thrown at him this season.
Botman is getting better and better with almost match he plays. It might not long until he’s playing in the Premier League.