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Man Utd Transfer News: Edmond Tapsoba over Odilon Kossounou? Erik ten Hag is eyeing the wrong Bayer Leverkusen defender

Tom Weber
Tom Weber

  • Updated: 13 Feb 2024 13:11 GMT
  • 7 min read
Edmond Tapsoba, Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah, Man Utd
© IMAGO

Manchester United are once again interested in Edmond Tapsoba.

The Red Devils are in the market for at least one new centre-back, with Erik ten Hag keen to overhaul his backline in the summer thanks to the incoming funds from Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS. In addition to the likes of Jean-Clair Todibo and Matthijs de Ligt, Edmond Tapsoba is now once again being associated with a switch to Old Trafford.

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Man Utd were already interested in the Bayer Leverkusen centre-back in the previous summer, though the Werkself’s hefty asking price put off the Red Devils, hamstrung as they were by Financial Fair Play problems. It was a wise decision on the part of the German side to not sell him as Tapsoba has been a vital cog in Xabi Alonso’s team, which is now on course to win the club’s first-ever Bundesliga title.

Yet, there is an argument to be made that Tapsoba is not the Leverkusen defender Man Utd should be looking at. His teammate Odilon Kossounou could be a much shrewder acquisition.

Odilon Kossounou
© IMAGO – Odilon Kossounou

Kossounou the star of the show

First off, it has to be acknowledged that Leverkusen’s defence has been nothing short of imperious and that this is due to the collective rather than individual performances. Xabi Alonso has found the perfect system for the players at his disposal and this is particularly evident in his defensive shape.

Alonso’s back-three gets the best out of his defenders while hiding their weaknesses. This has allowed a player like Jonathan Tah, a 28-year-old mountain of a man who has always been highly rated but never quite managed to live up to expectations, to look like an elite player this term. Nevertheless, Kossounou has been a real standout for Leverkusen.

That’s because the Ivory Coast international, who recently kept none other than Victor Osimhen quiet in the AFCON final, is more than just a mere centre-back. Kossonou is a very proactive defender and not afraid to get heavily involved in Bayer’s build-up.

Odilon Kossounou

2023/2024 | Bundesliga (DEU)

Centre back (1266 Minutes played)

95% StopperBall PlayingDefenderBall WinningDefender

Edmond Tapsoba

2023/2024 | Bundesliga (DEU)

Centre back (1328 Minutes played)

99% StopperBall PlayingDefenderBall WinningDefender

Indeed, he has become something of a playmaker from deep, often going on surging runs into the opposition’s half and linking the play with the Werkself’s attackers. He also showed this in the AFCON final against Nigeria, crossing the halfway line and unleashing a fierce shot from miles out that led to the corner from which the eventual champions scored their equaliser.

Despite being only 23 and therefore several years the junior of his centre-back partners Tapsoba (25) and Tah (28), Kossounou is already arguably Leverkusen’s best defender. This also shows up in the data, with experts SciSports unequivocally rating him as the club’s top centre-back and among their best performers overall.

Odilon Kossounou (blue) vs Jonathan Tah (red) and Edmond Tapsoba (yellow)
© SciSports – Odilon Kossounou (blue) vs Jonathan Tah (red) and Edmond Tapsoba (yellow)

Moreover, SciSports believe that Kossounou is the Leverkusen man with the second-highest ceiling behind only wonderkid Florian Wirtz. The crucial piece of information that makes it clear that the Ivorian would be ideal for Man Utd is the fact that SciSports already rate him more than any other defensive player currently at Old Trafford.

Such is Kossounou’s ability that he would instantly be among the Red Devils’ best players and he would also boast the highest potential of any Man Utd star, even bettering the likes of Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho, the current players with the biggest upside. Kossounou wouldn’t come cheap, of course, but he may just be worth the money.

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