Manchester United have no excuses for not bringing in a central defender during the summer transfer window, because they had options available to them that would have allowed them to avoid over-spending. That’s the view of ESPN pundit Gab Marcotti.
United focused on signing attacking reinforcements this summer despite their issues at the back.
Fans and pundits alike expected them to address their defensive liabilities after making a poor start to the season, shipping 11 goals in just three games.
Instead of bringing in a new centre-back, however, they focused further up the pitch, signing Donny van de Beek, Edinson Cavani, Amad Traore and Facundo Pellistri in attacking positions.
While United did fork out for left-back Alex Telles, buying the Brazilian from Porto in a £18million deal, they opted against signing a central defender while Chris Smalling left the club after ten years to sign permanently for AS Roma.
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And Marcotti believes the reason they decided against it was because they didn’t want to over-pay.
RB Leipzig ace Dayot Upamecano was linked with a move, but United would have reportedly had to pay upwards of £59m to sign him.
But the ESPN pundit believes they still had cheaper options available to them, and didn’t have to spend big in order to improve their rotation options.
Chelsea snapped up two centre-backs at opposite ends of their career without paying a transfer fee for either, with Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr both arriving from Ligue 1.
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And speaking to ESPN FC, Marcotti admitted that United would have been better off signing anyone with the ability to play centre-back than doing nothing in the market.
“I would assume it’s because they didn’t want to be taken for a ride and didn’t want to overspend,” he said when asked for his opinion on why the Red Devils didn’t reinforce the position.
“That’s always the explanation we get when United are questioned on this.
“I really don’t know, and I’ve been saying this for weeks, if you can’t get the guy you want… someone told me if you don’t get the fruit from the top of the tree get the fruit from the bottom of the tree, because you still have to eat.
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“When I look at this now with Chris Smalling gone, I look at United’s options at centre-back and the fact the window isn’t open again, this could be a really really long three months for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“I get it, I get they didn’t want to go and overspend for Upamecano or anyone else and wanted to bide their time.
“But if you can’t get that [top level player], go and get a veteran, a guy who knows his way around.
“There were so many guys around there who were available on loans or short-term deals, similar to Cavani, just to get a warm body in so that your first option off the bench isn’t Eric Bailly or Phil Jones, or Axel Tuanzebe and guys like that.”
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