Overbooking of central defenders at Old Trafford

United Old Trafford

The Red Devils are now spoilt for choice when it comes to central defensive options, following the arrival of Lisandro Martínez from Ajax in a deal worth £46.8 million, plus just over £4 million in potential add-ons. The Argentina international was considered to be a ‘must-have’ player for Eric ten Hag, which means he will immediately play a prominent role.

Manchester United are still regarded as title outsiders, according to the latest 2022-23 Premier League bookie predictions, although the arrival of Martínez could have a significant effect on their chances. This will certainly make it worthwhile comparing the best football betting sites, via trusted reviews featuring expert advice covering bonuses and betting markets, along with highlighting those renowned for safety and security.

The signing of Martínez certainly provides Ten Hag with the defensive safety and security he seeks. However, it could also accelerate the departures of players who are now deemed surplus to requirements. Let’s take a look at the current central defenders at United, along with their chances of staying at Old Trafford or alternatively, the likelihood they could be heading for the exit door.

Lisandro Martínez

Too short for a centre-back in England? Despite the diminutive height at 5 foot 9 inches, Lisandro Martínez is actually very good at winning aerial duels, although that isn’t the primary reason why Erik ten Hag wanted the Argentine player.

The 24-year-old is an exceptional ball-winner, capable of reading how opponents move and timing his tackles to perfection, while demonstrating the vision and technical ability to swiftly recycle possession.

Indeed, this is precisely what United boss Ten Hag wants from his new Manchester United signing, able to shut down rival attacking threats while his defensive partner stays more central. The role Martínez will play is that of a stopper, an enforcer blessed with greater mobility and reactionary guile, compared the classically English perception of the tall and physical version. We can also assume he will be a first-choice option for Ten Hag.

Harry Maguire & Raphael Varane

While there has already been clarification from Ten Hag regarding his captaincy, Harry Maguire will still have to earn his place in the starting line-up at Manchester United. Well below his best form last season, the 29-year-old needs to bounce back during the 2022-23 campaign, especially now he faces additional competition in the team.

Maguire would typically play alongside Raphael Varane in the heart of defence, although that panorama has now changed significantly. The England international and the Frenchman will now be in direct competition, whenever Ten Hag decides upon who gets to play alongside new signing Martínez, depending on how the United boss plans games tactically. Fitness and form will also be decisive for either, throughout the season.

Victor Lindelöf & Eric Bailly

The roles for these two players will certainly make for compelling observation, amidst growing speculation that Victor Lindelöf or Eric Bailly could be sold, unless either or both can adapt to the requirements of their new manager. Should they achieve the latter, Manchester United will certainly have quality strength and depth to draw from, giving this duo an ideal opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

Based upon his number of appearances over the last five seasons, Lindelöf would seem the most likely to stay. But throughout pre-season so far, Bailly has certainly made a good case for himself, regardless of the widespread belief amongst pundits that he will almost certainly be sold. In truth, it would probably serve United’s interests best to keep them both for now, especially if Ten Hag can get these two back to their very best form.

Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe & Teden Mengi

Amongst the other central defensive options currently on the books, the immediate future doesn’t look promising for them at Old Trafford, suggesting they will be heading for the Old Trafford exit door before the transfer window closes. Following his appointment as DC United head coach, Wayne Rooney seems keen on Phil Jones, offering the 30-year-old a fresh start and the chance to reboot his career.

24-year-old Tuanzebe has never managed to reach his initial potential, even after three loan spells at Aston Villa and concluding last season at Napoli, making it highly likely he will be sold. 20-year-old Mengi still has the opportunity to make his mark, although that will probably come via another loan elsewhere this season, following spells with Derby County and Birmingham in the Championship. Right now, he remains one to watch for the future.

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