It was reported by BBC that Manchester United decided to pull off from the deal for Benfica defender Victor Lindelof at the last moment after being convinced by the pairing of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
And now, the club had reportedly agreed a £38 million fee with Benfica for the transfer of Lindelof according to the reports (Sport Witness via O Jogo). It would make him as one of the most expensive defenders in the world, but Jose Mourinho believed that the player had all the qualities to become a top-class centre-back for years to come.
United had earlier profited heavily from making long-term bets on Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Mourinho saw no reason to bring in Lindelof as a potential partner for Eric Bailly, who had already showed his tremendous potential in the first half of the campaign. In the wake of numerous injury problems, the Portuguese manager had to use Jones and Rojo as the defensive pairing. It is a move that has paid rich dividends with United becoming rock solid in defence over the last few weeks.
Expectativa no #Benfica é a saída de Lindelof para o Manchester United. Venda já está consumada, aguardando apenas o anúncio oficial
— Bruno Andrade (@brunoandrd) January 3, 2017
Now, fresh reports from Portugal indicate that the transfer for Lindelof could be announced in the next few days, as only the official announcement has been pending. It comes as a surprising statement, but Portuguese journalist Bruno Andrade claimed:
“I repeat: #Lindelof expects only the resolution of some bureaucracies to be officially confirmed as a new Manchester United player”
Lindelof is an extremely versatile player, who is capable of playing as a centre back or in the right back position. It means that United could replace Antonio Valencia if they desired. Mourinho is a manager who loves a versatile player, as he famously relied heavily upon Branislav Ivanovic’s capability to play in the right back position despite being a centre back by nature.
Eric Bailly has just departed for the 2017 African Cup of Nations and could be unavailable for up to a month. Benfica are aware that United are desperate for cover in the defensive positions, and it seems to have been a major factor in the club agreeing to a mega-money deal. The Portuguese club could end up receiving up to £42 million depending on the future performances of the player. It is a massive profit for the club after they brought him for just £300,000 just three years ago.
Manchester United have been on an incredible run of form over the last few weeks. Despite playing against 10 men for much of the game against West Ham, they were made to work for their 2-0 win. Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the goals that provided United with the sixth consecutive win in the league. It has once again revealed the top four ambitions, and possibly even the title hopes, with 19 matches having been played. United are only three points behind the top four places.