The market for top class defenders is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Chelsea’s desire to bolster their defensive options saw them part ways with £29 million to acquire the services of Antonio Rudiger. Manchester City, not to be outdone, then spent £50m on enticing Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur. Two excellent players with bright futures, and at those sums they would want to be.
Even that Walker fee could be topped soon, however, as both English clubs look set to lock horns in an attempt to sign Real Madrid’s Danilo, as reported in Gianluca Di Marzio. Both sides appear to have made it a summer priority to strengthen their defensive cover and Real Madrid look primed to take full financial advantage of that.
Danilo’s career has somewhat faltered, as is so often the case, upon his move to Real Madrid. He has notched up more minutes on the bench than he would care to remember and at 26 years of age, is understandably eager to gain more game time.
A move to Manchester City on first glance, however, hardly looks attractive. One would assume that, having spent £50m on Walker, Pep Guardiola is intent on entrusting him with a leading role come next season. Allied to this has been Guardiola’s repeated comments throughout last season that he “doesn’t train tackles”, showcasing a bizarre antipathy to the craft he has spent lavishly on this summer.
Antonio Conte is, of course, not that type of coach. He is clearly quite cerebral in how he thinks about the game and his players have benefited from that hugely. David Luiz and Victor Moses, in particular, have appeared reborn under his tutelage. Neither were previously taken overly seriously as top-class defenders but asserted themselves remarkably well last season to establish themselves as among the best in the business in the Premier League. Indeed, Conte has been quoted as having told Luiz that:
“If you want to come back very soon to play in your national team and be the best in the world, follow me!”
Such sentiments will likely ring true with Danilo also, although whether it will be sufficient to convince him of a move to London rather than Manchester remains to be seen.
What seems obvious, however, is that some Premier League clubs are wasting little time to fortify their squads in advance of next season.
Other suitors of the Premier League title will likely need to match the deep pockets of Chelsea and City, to say nothing of Manchester United, to mount serious title tilts come next season.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena