You can come out from under your beds now, Man United fans.
As bad as last week was for The Red Devils fans, there is a solution to help them compete with Liverpool.
And the answer is to copy what they’re rivals did when they signed Virgil van Dijk.
‘Attack, attack, attack’ has been the cry from the Stretford End over the past few seasons with Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal’s laboured styles wearing the Old Trafford faithful thin.
But it is the tired defence which requires surgery this summer, not the attack…
Of the £700million they have spent over the past seven seasons, only £120mil has gone towards signing defenders.
In United’s away leg to Barcelona – their biggest game of the season – they had three defenders who were at the club in 2011.
Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all started at the Camp Nou and most United fans will be praying none of the three will be anywhere near the team next season.
£30m Eric Baily was not included in the squad for either leg having been hooked by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half of the quarter-final second leg against PSG.
Victor Lindelof played at right back and the inevitable happened.
Well, Lionel Messi happened.
While Man United crashed out of the Champions League, arch rivals Liverpool went on to win it.
The Red’s business model should be a guide to Ed Woodward and co in the boardroom at Old Trafford.
Jurgen Klopp identified the defensive (and goalkeeping) shortcomings in the side and broke the bank, signing £141m worth of assurance at the back, to resolve the issues.
Both Matthijs De Ligt and Kalidou Koulibaly would cost Man United a ‘Van Dijk’ amount of money.
You would imagine both players would become the most expensive defenders in the world, should they sign for Man United.
But surely they are worth it?
They are the most sought after defenders in the game today and The Red Devils have never looked so desperate.
Koulibaly has been hot property for a while now and the Naples side have been playing hard ball.
Chelsea and Man City have both declared interest in the Senegalese defender with the London side having a £60m bid rejected last summer.
That was enough to deter the relatively frugal Chelsea, but this is the same Man United who splashed out £50m on Fred last summer so the price tag shouldn’t put them off.
De Ligt was one of the main beneficiaries to come out of Ajax’s Champions League run.
The teenage captain went from anonymous in the eyes of global fans to the talk of the European game.
It is looking like De Ligt will follow his friend and Ajax team-mate, Frenkie de Jong, to Barcelona but United should try anything and everything to persuade him Manchester is where he belongs.
This may be the first case in a whole new issue for Man United – are they an attractive enough prospect for the world’s best?
Since Ferguson’s departure, Man United have still been able to attract the likes of Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.
With no Champions League football and with Pep Guardiola’s Man City winning back-to-back titles, their position as Manchester’s finest is under threat.
And that’s just in Manchester…
Former Man Untied boss, Louis van Gaal, hasn’t helped his old club’s cause as he thinks Barcelona or Man City are better suited for De Ligt.
Just when you thought he couldn’t get more unpopular at Old Trafford…
Pep may be looking for Vincent Komany’s replacement both on the pitch and as captain.
And there are no better candidates in world football for that role than De Ligt.
So it will be hard work for Man United to land either of the world class defenders.
But they just need to ask Liverpool if it is worth breaking the bank for a top quality defender.
Knowing Ed Woodward, they’ll just go for Gareth Bale and Jadon Sancho…
Big Phil Jones can take care of business at the back…
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- Spurs shirts, overnight trains and under-priced beer – A first hand account of the weirdest European final
- A love letter to Eden Hazard – a thank you and goodbye to the Premier League’s best
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