Having been hampered by an alrarmingly poor midfield this season and having monitored a left-back for over six months now, Manchester United, if reports are to be believed, are set to splash about £15m on a centre-back, as David Moyes looks to replace the ageing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
The United manager was at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid on Wednesday, where he watched Atletico Madrid vs Porto. Those who hoped Moyes was in the Spanish capital to keep an eye on Koke or Porto’s Jackson Martinez will be disappointed to know that the United manager was instead monitoring Eliaquim Mangala.
Today’s newspapers report that United have been tracking Mangala for months, with the 22-year-old centre-back considered to be the ideal option to replace one between Ferdinand and Vidic, who, at 35 and 32 years of age respectively, are nearing the end of their careers.
Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are excellent options at centre-back – although the latter has often featured in midfield this season – but a team of United’s aspirations needs four centre-backs and with Ferdinand and Vidic set to leave the club sooner rather than later, Mangala is thought to fit the bill perfectly.
The Porto defender, who has just broken into the France team, is an imposing figure at centre-back and his physique seems ideal for the rigours of Premier League football, particularly as United’s back four has been bullied too often this season.
Mangala, however, is on other clubs’ radar too, with Chelsea keeping a close eye on the Frenchman, who’s also monitored by a couple of Spanish and Italian sides and who is cup tied in the Champions League, having taken part in the competition with Porto this season.
Moyes is thought to be determined to return to Everton for Leighton Baines in January, which means that a move for Mangala could, theoretically at least, be put on hold until the summer, but it’ll take a tangible financial effort to prize the centre-back away from Porto.