One key position that Manchester United need to reinforce ahead of the 2016/17 season is a centre-back. Chris Smalling established himself as first-choice for both club and country after a stellar season, but questions still remain over the identity of his partner.
Daley Blind filled the gap and played well under van Gaal, but he is definitely not a CB for clubs looking to win the title. Phil Jones can’t be trusted to stay fit for an entire season (but would be a more-than-handy squad option), while Paddy McNair is still relatively untested at the highest level.
Jose Mourinho has always had strong centre-back options at his clubs- think of Terry/Carvalho, Varane/Ramos, and Lucio/Samuel at Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Inter respectively.
United have been linked with many CBs over the transfer window (Manolas, Bailly, Garay), but once CB who has constantly been linked is John Stones – but would he be a good signing?
Having taken all of this into account, I still believe Stones would be a perfect fit for United. By securing him, it would allow Smalling (not the best on the ball) to focus more on his defending (and also get rid of his habit of grabbing/pulling players). Stones would therefore take responsibility for playing the ball out of the back, while also learning how to refine his game from one of the best managers in football.
A Stones/Smalling combination would be the long-term future for both club/country as well, and they would learn each other’s game inside out. Stones’ inexperience would also mean that Phil Jones still plays enough games as third-choice CB/first reserve CB, while McNair/Blind could be used as other options.
However, one other possibility is quite feasible – Stones being signed, as well as a physical no-nonsense CB (Manolas). It would mean there are plenty of options/variety at the back, and would also provide squad depth. There are many clubs keeping an eye on Stones though, so it is no guarantee he would move to Old Trafford.
However, if he did, it would be a great signing for Jose Mourinho as he builds his team at Manchester United.
Written by Vishakh Chandrasekhar
Follow Vishakh on Twitter @VishC24
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