Man United Opinion: Red Devils should drop their interest in Maguire and Koulibaly and sign Diop instead
According to Metro, Man United are interested in signing West Ham centre-back Issa Diop this summer, with reports claiming that the Red Devils are prepared to test the Hammers resolve with a big-money bid.
Diop, however, is not the only centre-back on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s radar, with United also linked with moves for Napoli’s Senegalese international stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly, as well as Leicester City star Harry Maguire. (h/t Metro)
United are prepared to offer £45 million to West Ham in order to bring the 22-year-old French youth international to Old Trafford but the Hammers are holding out for a fee of at least £60 million to part ways with their prized asset.
The East Londoners spent £22 million to bring Diop to the Premier League from French club Toulouse as a part of their spending spree last summer and it is understood that they now want more than twice that amount to let him depart following the youngster’s impressive debut season under Manuel Pellegrini.
Diop established himself as an ever-present at the back for West Ham in his very first season at the club and went on to make a total of 38 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions, scoring twice. The 22-year-old’s stocks have risen significantly since his arrival in England and the Old Trafford chiefs might as well need to loosen their purse strings if they are really serious about striking a deal for the Frenchman this summer.
Well, it is a no-brainer that United need to bring in a new centre-back this summer in order to sort out their defensive problems. The Red Devils conceded as many as 54 goals in the Premier League this past season, which was the second-worst defensive record amongst the top ten clubs and almost twice the number (28) that they shipped over the course of the 2017-18 season.
United’s backline has deteriorated significantly in a very short span of time and the likes of Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Ashley Young, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling were all slammed numerous times by the fans and pundits for their inconsistent and lacklustre performances. Quite clearly, the Red Devils need to bring in upgrades on several of their options at the back if they are really serious about challenging for the Premier League title in the years to come, if not, next season.
Solskajer is likely to be backed heavily in the transfer market this time around but the Norwegian needs to be sensible with his approach while investing in players. As a matter of fact, United cannot afford to blow away the majority of their budget on one player, given that centre-back is not the only area that is in dire need of investment.
The Red Devils also need to bring in a replacement for departing club-captain Antonio Valencia or an upgrade on Ashley Young at right-back, whilst central midfield reinforcements following the departures of Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini are also likely to be high on the manager’s wishlist. Furthermore, United need to offload Alexis Sanchez and bring in quality centre-forward to replace Romelu Lukaku, given that the Belgian isn’t the best for Solskajer’s style of play.
It is true that the Red Devils cannot bolster all areas of their squad in a single transfer window, and while a centre-back remains a top priority, Solskajer needs to look at cheaper and more affordable alternatives to the likes of Maguire and Koulibaly to ensure that United give themselves a chance of solving as many problems as they can this summer itself.
Issa Diop is likely to be available for a fraction of that price, and although West Ham have slapped a £60 million price tag on the 22-year-old following his impressive debut season, the Red Devils should fancy their chances of bringing him to the club for a fee much lower than that.
Standing at 6ft. 4 inches with a towering well-built frame, Diop is a tremendous athlete and very fast and agile for a centre-back of his stature. A physically dominating defender noted for his speed, athleticism and supreme aerial ability, the Frenchman also impressed with his calmness, composure and decision-making at the back in the Premier League last season.
Blessed with the ball-playing qualities of a modern-day defender, Diop registered a pass success rate of 86 this past season. To add to that, the 22-year-old averaged 2.3 aerial duels, 2.1 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 4.7 clearances per game in the Premier League, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a central defender. In fact, the youngster gave Man United a bitter taste of his robust defending when he played a key role in West Ham’s 3-1 victory over the Red Devils back in September last season.
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Issa Diop has the potential to evolve into a world-class defender in the years to come and United have every reason to look at him as a good long-term, as well as, a short-term investment. The Frenchman is certainly good enough to play for their first-team and he is just 22, which is another reason why United should prefer Diop to the likes of more established and experienced central defenders, Maguire (26) and Koulibaly (27).
“Could be a turning point”, “More please”: Several Tottenham fans joyful after huge 5-0 win vs Red Star + Match report
Tottenham fans react to the emphatic 5-0 win vs Red Star Belgrade
Tottenham romped home with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side registered their first victory in the group stages of the tournament.
Having drawn 2-2 against Olympiacos before suffering an ignominious 7-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich on Matchday 2, the Lilywhites came into the game knowing that they had to grab all three points to stay in the hunt for qualification from Group B and the hosts finally returned to winning ways after three games in all competitions.
Braces from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, and a solitary strike from Erik Lamela ensured that the fans finally had something to cheer about following a woeful recent run of results as Spurs managed to breathe some life into their tottering European campaign.
Despite having picked up a shock 3-1 victory over Olympiacos on Matchday 2, Red Star Belgrade were clearly the underdogs heading into the away fixture against Tottenham and it didn’t take long for the Premier League giants to break the deadlock.
Kane headed it in from Lamela’s corner to give Spurs the lead just nine minutes into the game but that was just the beginning of a breathtaking display from the home side, something that has been an anomaly rather than a norm since the start of the season.
Lamela was once again the provider for the second goal as the Argentine got in behind the defence and turned his man before delivering an inch-perfect cross from the outside of his left boot for Son to make it 2-0.
Son almost immediately returned the favour back to Lamela, who had a golden chance to grab a third goal for the hosts, only for Milan Borjan to deny him with a fine save. Red Star had a rare sight of goal when Rajiv van La Parra called Paulo Gazzaniga into action with a header shortly after.
However, the visitors were soon the architects of their own downfall when their sudden loss of possession in the midfield allowed Tanguy Ndombele to embark on a driving run and the Frenchman set up Son for his second of the night and Spurs’ third just before the interval.
With Spurs leading 3-0 at half-time, the game looked like a done and dusted affair and the Lilywhites continued to toy with their opponents after the restart.
Kane and Son set up Lamela for a couple of very presentable chances early in the second half before the Argentine finally grabbed a goal from Serge Aurier’s assist just before the hour mark.
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Lamela came close to bagging his second of the night just moments later while Son also narrowly missed the target but Kane made it 5-0 at the 72nd-minute mark with a precise right-footed finish, Ndombele chipping in with his second assist of the game.
In the end, it was probably relief more than joy for Pochettino but the thumping victory was definitely a sight for sore eyes to savour and a massive confidence-booster, nonetheless.
Here’s how some of the Tottenham fans reacted to the 5-0 victory:-
“World-class performance”: Some Man City fans on cloud nine after emphatic 5-1 win over Atalanta + Match report
UEFA Champions League Match Report: Man City 5-1 Atalanta
Man City stormed 5-1 past Italian outfit Atalanta in their Group C encounter on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League, as Pep Guardiola’s side registered their third consecutive victory in the group stage of the competition to take a step closer to qualification.
Ruslan Malinovskyi’s opener from the penalty spot was cancelled out by Sergio Aguero’s first-half brace before a quickfire hat-trick from Raheem Sterling after the interval ensured that the Citizens absolutely demolished their opposition on the night to claim all three points in an emphatic manner.
Guardiola opted for a change in formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Rodri and Fernandinho playing as the makeshift pairing at the heart of the defence.
Gundogan and De Bruyne formed the pivot in the midfield while Phil Foden started in the No.10 role with Mahrez and Sterling playing out wide on either side to complement Aguero up top.
Atalanta had been written off completely by many prior to the start of the game but the Serie A side showed strong signs of promise in the early stages of the game and found a surprise breakthrough much against the run of play.
Fernandinho brought Josip Ilicic down at the edge of the box and Malinovskyi stepped up from twelve yards to convert the resultant penalty, sending Ederson the wrong way to make it 1-0 just before the half-hour mark.
City, though, had been regarded as the strong favourites in the clash and it wasn’t long before the Premier League giants stamped their authority. Sterling’s excellent lobbed pass from the edge of the box had all the guile in the world to outwit the Atalanta backline and Aguero was at the right place to level the scores in the 34th minute.
The hosts’ dominance continued to reign supreme and Sterling’s lung-busting run drew a foul from Andrea Masiello inside the box as Aguero coolly stepped up to convert the penalty and put City 2-1 ahead before the interval.
The second half was nothing but one-way traffic and after playing a key role in each of Aguero’s first-half goals, Sterling was simply unstoppable after the restart.
Foden set him up for an easy finish to make the scoreline 3-1 before a sumptuous through ball from Gundogan set the England international free down the left side, allowing him to cut inside and get the home crowd off their feet with a clinical finish.
The game looked dead and buried but Man City were apparently keen to inflict more pain on the Italians as Mahrez set up Sterling for his hat-trick in the 69th minute. The winger had a glorious opportunity to grab a sixth goal for the hosts but it was a night to remember for him, nevertheless.
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There was a rare blemish for the Citizens when Foden was given the marching orders for a second bookable offence but Pep Guardiola will definitely be a pleased man after his team completely tore the visitors to pieces on Tuesday night.
Here’s how some of the joyous Man City fans reacted to the 5-1 victory in the Champions League:-
[Image] Man United vs Arsenal: Star-studded combined XI featuring 4 Red Devils and 7 Gunners
Man United vs Arsenal: Combined XI featuring 4 Red Devils and 7 Gunners
After a round of EFL Cup fixtures, Premier League action is set to return this weekend with plenty of thrills and spills and the high-octane clash between Man United and Arsenal on Monday night is undoubtedly going to be one of the main attractions of matchweek 7.
Both the teams won their EFL Cup fixtures, with Arsenal handing Nottingham Forest a 5-0 drubbing and Man United somehow edging past a lowly Rochdale in the penalty shootout.
Arsenal are currently placed 4th in the Premier League standings after a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa last week and the fans will be expecting the Gunners to continue their winning run, while Man United will have their work cut out away from home after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham last week.
Bernd Leno (GK)
The German has proven his worth between the sticks on numerous occasions with some fine saves this season and he certainly deserves the nod over de Gea, who has been a bit inconsistent.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB)
The youngster has proven himself to be an excellent addition to Man United’s backline and it is a no-brainer that he has fared way better than Maitland-Niles in that position.
Harry Maguire (CB)
The England international has added a lot of steel to United’s backline following his big-money move from Leicester City earlier in the summer. One of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, he definitely deserves a place ahead of the error-prone David Luiz in the elite combined line-up.
The Greek international has hardly been at his best but Victor Lindelof too, has been equally lacklustre and there isn’t really a lot to choose between them so far this term.
Kieran Tierney (LB)
The Scotsman made his first start for the Gunners since his move from Celtic back in August and the fans will be expecting him to play a big part on Monday if he starts.
Matteo Guendouzi (CDM)
The Frenchman has arguably been Arsenal’s most influential presence in the middle of the park with his excellent all-round game, leapfrogging Fred, Matic, Xhaka and Torreira on the performance charts.
Scott McTominay (CDM)
The youngster has really come of age for United this term and his combative and energetic displays in the middle of the park have caught the eye amidst a lot of mediocrity from his teammates, including star man Paul Pogba.
Nicolas Pepe (RW)
The Ivorian is currently on high spirits after bagging his first goal for Arsenal against Aston Villa last week and though he hasn’t done anything spectacular yet, there is hardly a better player from either team in that role.
Daniel James (LW)
The former Swansea City starlet has taken the Premier League by storm this season and he will be United’s best bet to find the net on Monday.
Dani Ceballos (CAM)
The Spaniard has shown a lot of promise in that No.10 role for the Gunners and he definitely deserves the nod ahead of big names like Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST)
The Gabonese international has become a nemesis for the defenders in the Premier League and with an impressive tally 6 goals in 6 league outings this season, Arsenal will look up to him to propel them to a victory over rivals United on Monday.
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