Manchester United are looking towards their strengthening their largely suspect defence in January, and look willing to break the bank to acquire SL Benfica defender Victor Lindelof.
The Sweden international has been at the centre of much speculation in recent days after Portuguese outlet O Jogo reported that United are in discussions with Benfica over the acquisition of the centre-back for a fee in the region of €45 million to bring him to the Premier League.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is certainly one man who is a useful ally for Lindelof to have at his side at the negotiating table, and the Swede has been more than complimentary about his fellow countryman.
“I think Victor is doing great things, he is playing good for Benfica, he gets a lot of responsibility for the national team now, he is growing.
“Is he good enough for United? I think he’s good enough for the big clubs out there. It’s up to him what he wants. Whatever he chooses will be good for him.
“I know he is hot on the market so let him make the right choice, what fits him good.”
It certainly does look like Lindelof’s next destination will be Manchester. The same Portuguese source reported this morning that Benfica owner Luis Filipe Vieira is travelling to England on Monday to finalise the terms of his player’s big-money move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
It is certainly evident that Jose Mourinho is in desperate need of alternative options at the back. Being unhappy with Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, the tactician has decided to partner Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones in recent encounters.
There is Eric Bailly is an additional choice, but he will be departing for the Africa Cup Of Nations, so there is perhaps evidence that suggests Lindelof’s arrival is desperately required.
Supporters of the Red Devils may wonder what they would be getting when Lindelof does put pen to paper.
The 22-year-old’s rise has been rapid and noteworthy.
Lindelof joined Benfica in December 2011 after catching scouts representing the Portuguese giants while competing for youth sides in Vasteras, his home town.
From there, he was fashioned into a reliable and outstanding commander. This materialisation took its time, as he was integrated into youth teams in Lisbon, but made his debut in October 2013.
It was not until January of this year that Lindelof broke through and established himself into the Benfica team, and that was subsequently rewarded with an inclusion in Sweden’s final 23 man squad for the European Championships in France.
Lindelof signed a new deal in the summer of 2015 that commits him to the Estadio da Luz until 2020, but United’s persuasive tongue in the transfer market has proved effective in recent months, with the captures of Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all relative coups, despite the money involved.
Known as ‘The Iceman’, Lindelof is surprisingly fast on his feet for a player of 6’1, and his positional awareness is second to none.
The Swede is also not afraid to use his tackling prowess to eradicate opposition attacks, and is a huge asset that will serve him well should he decide to join the Red Devils as expected.
Lindelof is not afraid to make bursting runs from the back when desired and can be regarded as being a far more effective version of John Stones at this.
His versatility is also another enormous benefit, with the player capable of operating as a right-back when needed – we saw this when Lindelof was deployed in both roles for his country in France.
The defender’s discipline is also exemplary, having only collected six yellow cards to his name in fourty-one appearances for Benfica and Sweden this year.
Although Lindelof will not arrive for a reasonable fee some may argue, he would be the dominant figure that Mourinho and the fans crave at the back for United.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.