If you’re the kind of person who believes every yarn spun by the red tops, you’ll be expecting Manchester United to embark upon the mother of all centre-back recruitment drives this summer.
Any number of elite defenders have been linked with a mega money move to Old Trafford during the off-season, with names like Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid’s Miranda mooted on an almost daily basis.
The former is 6/4 to be a Red Devil by the close of the summer transfer window.
It’s a distinct possibility Louis van Gaal will choose to pursue one world-class centre-back this summer, but the chances of him drafting in multiple players who excel in this position is extremely unlikely.
The ever-improving form of current first-choice stoppers Phil Jones and Chris Smalling means they’re unlikely to displace both, while Marcos Rojo and Jonny Evans are still to come back in the side.
With this quality quartet in the ranks, it’s difficult to envisage the Dutchman pumping the bulk of his transfer budget into the acquisition of several centre-halves.
Parachuting in one more would see their rearguard department well populated, but of the host of superstar stoppers Man Utd have been linked with, which should they regard as the highest priority?
According to a statistical comparison, it’s neither of the two blockbuster names mentioned higher up this page.
There aren’t many fields in which Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi doesn’t outstrip his rivals in the audition for the part of Man Utd’s mainline centre-back.
These averages are calculated around performances in their domestic divisions, but of all the key fields in which good defenders are measured on, it’s only aerial duels won and dribbled past per match averages where the Argentine doesn’t don the gold medal.
He still manages to take silver in both areas though, suggesting he is the most well-rounded of the three elite stopper’s most frequently linked with Man Utd moves.
It strikes as no coincidence that Valencia haven’t recorded a clean sheet in any of the matches Otamendi has missed this term, shipping a staggering eight goals in the three La Liga fixtures he has sat out.
Given the reputations of the two defenders he’s in competition with, the 18-cap Albiceleste international is sure to be the most budget-friendly buy of the trio and, based on this season’s statistics, would represent the best value for money.