Man Utd transfer news: How Red Devils can solve Harry Maguire problem for UNDER €40m

Robin Bairner
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Man Utd, 2023/24

Manchester United are heading for a summer revolution in the transfer market.

For so many years, the Old Trafford side have been renowned as big spenders who have been poor negotiators and judges of player potential.

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The arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS group is expected to change this.

READ MORE: France star can save Man Utd €100m if Ratcliffe forgets Joao Neves

Man Utd will focus more on getting value for money and, to some extent at least, will move away from flashy signings towards smart ones.

The heart of the defence could be the first example of this. Harry Maguire was signed as the most expensive centre-back in history, yet has fallen well short of this level. He could leave in the summer along with Raphael Varane.

A replacement will come in, and this will be Ratcliffe’s first opportunity to show the new, smarter, Man Utd off.

READ MORE: Man Utd’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

Harry Maguire, Man Utd
© IMAGO – Harry Maguire, Man Utd

Using the expertise of data analytics firm SciSports, FootballTransfers has delved into potential targets for the Red Devils’ defence, using the following criteria:

  • Position: Center-back
  • Age: 24 or under
  • Estimated Transfer Value (ETV): €0-40m
  • SciSkill: 100+
  • The SciSkill of over 100 is chosen because that is the rating of Man Utd’s top centre-back Raphael Varane. Anyone boasting over this score, which is calculated from in-game data points, should be an upgrade.

    SciSports provided nine players that match these attributes, but filtering out those at their close Premier League rivals, Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool, Levi Colwill of Chelsea and Newcastle’s Sven Botman, there are six realistic summer centre-back options.

    Varane is Man Utd's best centre-back, according to SciSports
    © IMAGO – Varane is Man Utd’s best centre-back, according to SciSports

    Man Utd’s budget centre-back options

    Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi is expected to move this summer and is the leading name on this list in terms of cost. With an ETV of €37.5m, he is likely to move for significantly more than this suggested price point due to the scale of Premier League interest in him.

    This should be an off-putting factor, particularly given his SciSkill ceiling is 129.8 – not as great as some of those other possibilities.

    Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo is another who has been linked with Man Utd. At a club that Ratcliffe owns, a deal should be straightforward but it has been suggested that the Red Devils won’t get a discount. In any case, with a ceiling of 117.5, there are better options.

    Torino’s Alessandro Buongiorno is a strong option, according to SciSports. He has the highest current skill level, though the lowest potential ceiling. The trade off is that his ETV is just €8.7m.

    Club Age ETV (€m) SciSkill Potential
    Alessandro Buongiorno Torino 24 8.7 107.1 112.9
    Dani Vivian Athletic Club 24 21 106.0 115.0
    Giorgio Scalvini Atalanta 20 37 105.6 142.2
    Odion Koussounou Leverkusen 23 24.6 105.1 126.1
    Marc Guehi Crystal Palace 23 37.5 103.9 129.8
    Jean-Clair Todibo Nice 24 23.4 102.0 117.5

    Similarly, Athletic Club’s Dani Vivian could step in as an instant upgrade for a comparatively small fee but is unlikely to dramatically improve in future.

    For the best of both worlds, SciSports suggests Atalanta’s Giorgio Scalvini. The 20-year-old is better than any centre-back option Man Utd have currently, and with a potential ceiling of an enormous 142.2, he possesses enough quality to become the best player in his position one day.

    With an ETV of €37m, he would not come particularly cheap, but it could be just the type of smart move to get the Ratcliffe era at Man Utd underway in earnest.

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