Man United want this £35m defender for ‘good reason’ – Van Gaal to bolster back?

first_imgMan United are set for a busy summer of spending, with defence one position set to be strengthened. Here, WhoScored.com run the rule over transfer target, Nicolas Otamendi.With the domestic seasons drawing to a close in Europe’s top five leagues, speculation over the big transfer this summer is set to go into overdrive.And the Premier League had barely reached its conclusion before Manchester United were linked with a big-money move for Valencia’s star centre-back Otamendi.After Mats Hummels insisted he wouldn’t be signing for United, interest has reportedly moved to Otamendi, who established himself as one the best centre-backs in La Liga this season.The Argentine’s 7.59 WhoScored.com rating was the best of all central defenders and put him seventh overall in Spain’s top tier. His performances have attracted widespread interest from the biggest clubs on the continent, though it appears United are leading the race for his signature.Louis van Gaal’s side have already secured the acquisition of Memphis Depay from PSV and look to be hell bent on landing their biggest targets early this transfer window. Next on the United radar appears to be defensive reinforcements and Otamendi has been targeted for good reason.Only Lionel Messi (25) and Cristiano Ronaldo (17) earned more WhoScored.com man of the match awards than the Valencia defender (7) in La Liga this term, reinforcing what was a superb debut campaign in Spain.Understandably, Los Che would be loathe to losing their prized defender, who has formed a solid centre-back partnership with Shkodran Mustafi. Otamendi’s ability to be in the right place at the right time to clear impending danger is perhaps his strongest asset.The Argentina international made more clearances (258) than any other player in La Liga this campaign, while the number of headed clearances he made (182) was also the most in Spain’s top tier.Such a no-nonsense approach to defending has understandably attracted the interest of the biggest teams in Europe. However, his ability to clear the ball from danger – though a strong point to his game – is not all the Argentine is famed for. The 27-year-old is a composed centre-back when needed, capable of playing the ball out from the back, which would appeal to Van Gaal and his patient approach implemented at Old Trafford.Otamendi averaged 44.6 passes per game in Spain this season and maintained a respectable pass success rate of 80.3 per cent. There is room for improvement in this department, but Van Gaal has proven that, given time, he can improve a player’s ability with the ball at his feet. Chris Smalling, for example, has looked a far more capable centre-back with the Dutchman at the United helm and it’s reasonable to suggest he can do similar with Otamendi.An average of 2.9 tackles and 3.1 interceptions per game further accentuate his defensive ability, while an average of 3.5 aerial duels won per game, which ranks among the top 10 in Spain, reinforces why one of his strengths on WhoScored.com is in aerial duels. This facet of his game would come in handy for United at the other end of the pitch, much like it did for Valencia.Five of Otamendi’s six league goals this campaign were headers; only Ronaldo, on 12, has netted more in La Liga.“If he [Otamendi] wants to go he will have to come to the club, not an agent, and pay what the club decide he is worth, which is €50m at least,” Valencia president Amadeo Salvo said via Twitter. Los Che are adamant they will not sell their star centre-back on the cheap and for good reason given his influential displays at the heart of their defence this season.Nevertheless, United are clearly keen to bolster at the back and have money to spend this summer in a bid to return to the summit of England’s top tier. With Depay confirmed, they would be wise to do all they can to secure the services of Otamendi if they wish to strengthen accordingly once the transfer window reopens.For more stats on reported Manchester United target Nicolas Otamendi, click here to view his WhoScored.com player page 1 Manchester United transfer target Nicolas Otamendi last_img read more