Manchester United’s summer was dominated by transfer speculation surrounding their right winger position, but many believed they needed a central defender even more than that.
Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe are all the senior central defenders in the squad and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been very settled on his starting pair.
Lindelof and Maguire have been the manager’s preferred pairing since he arrived, but they have come under criticism several times for poor individual performances.
Stylistically they don’t really compliment each other too well either. Neither are particularly quick, neither are strong one on one and both would prosper from having a different partner alongside them.
The initial thought whenever the discussion arises of a new centre-back joining the club is always about whether they will take Lindelof out of the lineup. For me however, he is the better defender of the two.
Lindelof has shown in the last six months or so that he is a good defender. It’s taken him a while, but he has seemingly grown and adapted to the league now. He is winning aerial duels, he is coping better in one on one situations and has grown to be the leader of the defence, despite playing alongside the club captain.
We’ve seen in the games without Maguire, namely against Paris Saint-Germain earlier this season, that United can still defend. Lindelof led a back three with Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw as they kept PSG quiet to take a huge win back to Manchester.
Meanwhile when Maguire featured without Lindelof, Manchester United were hammered 6-1 at home by Tottenham Hotspur with the skipper arguably the worst performer on the pitch.
We’ve seen Lindelof’s improvements since he first broke into the side but his good form has gone largely under the radar in recent times, mainly because fans will surely be waiting for a mistake to come in. But he’s been the most reliable central defender at the club for a while now.
If United were to sign a top class centre-back in the near future, my personal belief would be that the club would be better off dropping Maguire rather than Lindelof.
Defensive partnerships like Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have been successful in the past, so there is no reason that Lindelof can’t be part of a successful defensive partnership. He has qualities that are excellent and others that can be improved. At 26 years of age, he’s not even near prime defensive years yet.
The likelihood of Maguire being dropped if the club sign a top new defender is low, if not least because he is the club captain and cost £80m, but the club should 100% look closely before making a final decision.
Victor Lindelof is the best central defender at the club and Manchester United can be successful with him.