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5 Centre-Backs Man United Could Sign if They Miss out on Koulibaly

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Where next for Koulibaly?

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is set to become one of the hottest transfer properties of the 2020 summer window, and the Senegal star will absolutely be the best defensive player available. Manchester United have been linked with Koulibaly for a long time – it is not quite as consistent as Wesley Sneijder or Nicolas Gaitan back in the day, but the links have remained nonetheless.

The fact of the matter is, United need a central defender. Harry Maguire, whilst having his off days, is a solid player and needs an elite talent to partner him that could really help solidify the Red Devils’ squad ahead of the 2020-21 season. Koulibaly would be the perfect signing, but United face hot competition for the defender.

The likes of local rivals Manchester City and Premier League champions Liverpool are said to both be very keen on the Napoli centre-back, with the former set to pursue the Senegal international aggressively as manager Pep Guardiola is an enormous fan.

If United are to miss out on Koulibaly, who could they sign to improve their backline ahead of next season? Let's take a look.

Nathan Ake - 5/1

Bournemouth are in real danger of relegation, but one player that appears likely to remain in the top flight is their central defender, Nathan Ake. The former-Chelsea prospect made a name for himself on the south coast, establishing himself as a solid Premier League footballer that is strong in every department.

After Manchester United defeated the Cherries 5-2 recently, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to speak to Ake on the field after the full time whistle, telling the Dutch defender that he “needs” a player like him at Old Trafford. Ake will likely be available for a cut-price fee as well if Bournemouth do indeed face their likely future of relegation to the Championship.

Solskjaer will have to act quickly though – Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are rumoured to already be moving for Ake’s signature.

Matthijs de Ligt - 5/1

A move for Ake’s international teammate appears unlikely given his renowned world-class potential, but Manchester United could be tempted into bidding for centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

The Dutch defender turned down Old Trafford last summer in favour of a move to Turin with Juventus, and he experienced a turbulent start that led to many rumours regarding the former-Ajax captain’s future.

However, he has turned in more consistent and impressive performances for the Serie A champions-elect and is a regular starter under manager Maurizio Sarri. If United stump up the cash – and it would be a lot of cash – then you shouldn’t rule this out.

John Egan - 9/1

Another example of United taking a page out of Bayern Munich’s book by buying local, the Red Devils could turn to Sheffield United to help solve their defensive issues.

John Egan is by no means a household name in world football, but the Irish central defender has been nothing short of exceptional during the Blades’ unbelievable campaign that has seen them pushing for a spot in the Europa League.

The Ireland internatioanl joined Sheffield United from Brentford in the summer of 2018, and quickly became a fan favourite as he starred in the clubs rise from the Championship and into the upper echelons of the Premier League.

Egan wouldn’t come cheap due to the fact that he is a proven top-flight defender, but he also would not break the bank for a club of United’s stature.

To Sign For Manchester United Next Window

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Nathan Ake @ 12/1

Dayot Upamecano - 7/1

Red Bull Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano has become a rising name around European football thanks to his exceptional footballing ability in the last 18 months.

The Frenchman, who is eligible to play for France, Portugal and Guinea-Bissau, has been linked with a move to many of Europe’s top sides with the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Barcelona all chasing the signature of the 21-year old.

Like Koulibaly, Upamecano could well be one of the top transfer stories of the summer.

Milan Skriniar

A name that has popped up recently regarding a move to Old Trafford is Inter Milan’s centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakian international has established himself as the club’s most prized defensive asset, but he has struggled under new manager Antonio Conte.

Skriniar’s best abilities don’t translate to Conte’s football as effectively as one would like, with the defender preferring to operate in a back four rather than the Italian’s back three. Skriniar is an elite defender, and starred in Luciano Spalletti’s team for two seasons, with his ability to mark attackers out of the game being particularly impressive.

The defender will likely be available as Conte aims to finance some moves in Milan, so don’t be surprised if United make a move for the star centre-back.

By Andrew Gamble