So it looks as if Manchester United may well have ended their interest in Belgian centre back Thomas Vermaelen as the player now looks destined for a move to La Liga with Barcelona.
Manchester United surely won’t end their quest for defenders there. With only three senior centre backs in the squad Louis van Gaal is acutely aware of the need for reinforcements for his 3-5-2 system.
German international Mats Hummels would be a wonderful addition to the team but Borussia Dortmund seem in no mood to sell the player.
Another target has reportedly entered the fray of late. Manchester City appeared keen to take Mehdi Benatia from Rome this summer. But with the impending signing of Eliaquim Mangala from Porto their interest in the Moroccan International has cooled.
And Manchester United are apparently now keen with The Guardian reporting today:
In nearby Manchester, Louis van Gaal is counting out £30m from his change jar in order to purchase Roma’s Morocco international centre-half Mehdi Benatia.
Benatia is something of a late developer. Born in France, he started out at Marseille but never played a senior game for them, as he was loaned out and then sold to Clermont in 2008. He moved to Italy in 2010 and immediately excelled, first with Udinese, then with Roma. At 27 he’s got 31 caps for the Morocco national side and combines brute strength with really good feet and reading of the game.
So he does tick most of the boxes for Louis van Gaal, except for the fact that he’s not a left-footed player. Manchester United are keen on taking a left footer for that side of the three man defence – which is why Vermaelen seemed like such a good option.
But there aren’t too many other really good ones about and perhaps LvG will compromise by simply adding a centre back of real authority – Benatia is certainly one of those.
Let’s take a look at him in action. Manchester United fans: good enough for the first 11?