Since the signing of Harry Maguire from Leicester City last August, Manchester United's defensive line has seen a vast change from the times of a Smalling and Jones centre-back partnership.
The change has been so vast, that United have conceded 18 less goals in this Premier League season to the 2018/19 season in which they conceded 54 goals to this seasons 36.
The acquisition of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace has also made a huge impact for their defence, the 22-year-old completed the most amount of tackles in the league this season with 129. He also finished the season with 11 clean sheets.
However as every great team should, United will always be looking to improve. With Victor Lindelof's lack of pace and Eric Bailly's injury woes, they need more investment in the centre-back department and finally find a long term partner for the world's most expensive defender.
After the game against Bournemouth last month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was seen trying to charm the then Bournemouth man, Nathan Ake into joining his project. Cameras picked Solskjaer up appearing to say: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going”. However, Ake joined United's noisy neighbours, Manchester City last week for a reported £40million fee. So with him off the cards, there are a potential three left-footed centre-back signings that would be sure to put a smile on Solskjaer's face.
Benoit Badiashile is a France U19 international player that plays for Monaco in Ligue 1. In the past two years he has grown from a rookie centre-back, to gaining a solid spot in the Monaco starting XI. The 19 year old had made a total of 16 appearances in Ligue 1 this season, 57% of them being in the starting XI.
His composure on the ball and his ability to beat attackers with his pace has landed him interest from top clubs, Zinedine Zidane has been understood to have liked the player as reported in the Spanish newspaper AS and has looked into bringing him to the Bernabeu in the near future. Arsenal and PSG have also been linked with him in recent months.
Standing 1.92 meters tall (6'3) he is also dominant in aerial duels, which is a brilliant attribute to have in English football. In the 2019/2020 season, Badiashile received a total of zero bookings in all competitions despite playing a full 90 minutes 14 times out of his 20 appearances all season. Costing £18m, he is someone that Manchester United should be looking at landing his signature and could be a United player for years to come.
Gabriel Magalhaes is a Brazilian international that plays for Lille in Ligue 1. He started off at Lille as a bit of an outsider with loan moves to Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb back to back, however this season he has proven vital to Lille's 4th place finish in Ligue 1. He started 82% of all games in the league this season and has proven to be a sensation in France.
He has only missed two games in Ligue 1 this season due to injury and has even been known to step in for injured players in other positions. In the game against Saint-Ettiene in August last year, he filled in for the injured Renato Sanches as a defensive midfielder, which saw the side win 3 goals to nil.
He is known to be composed on the ball and a good play-maker, he had an 82% pass completion rate in the Ligue 1 this season which is very good for a defender. United have already been linked with Gabriel in this transfer window and the ever reliable Fabrizio Romano confirmed that we had held discussions with Gabriel's agents. United aren't the only team after his signature this summer and will face stiff competition with Arsenal, Napoli and Everton all keeping tabs on the Brazilian titan. If Manchester United want this player they will need to move quick.
Gabriel Magalhães: Arsenal are in the race and have started talks with Lille. Napoli still interested but not moving yet because it’ll depend by Koulibaly future. Manchester United just had contacts with his agents but no talks with Lille atm. Game on. 🇧🇷 #AFC #MUFC #Napoli— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 6, 2020
Pau Torres is a Spanish international who plays for Villareal in the La Liga Santander. Torres has been nothing but a revelation in Spain this season, after a successful loan spell at Malaga last season, Torres came back to Villareal with a point to prove and he proved it. This season he has featured in 34 matches out of 38 for the La Liga side and pushed them to finish 5th which guaranteed them Europa League football next season.
His attacking output is also above average for a centre-back, he scored twice and assisted once this season in La Liga, one being a left footed shot against Osasuna and another being a header against Sevilla. Maguire scored 3 goals this season in all competitions, so to get another defender that is a threat in the box would improve United's set piece game a lot. However, Torres did score an own goal against Barcelona which inevitably lost them the game.
The 23 year old won 61 aerial duels and 94 tackles in La Liga this season which ranked him among the better half of all centre-backs in that league. He has been linked to a move to Barcelona this summer as well as United, the Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo made this claim. Pau Torres is definitely a centre-back United should be looking at, however, I am not entirely sure he is the answer to United's defensive problems.
At the end of the day, any of these three centre-backs would be an improvement on what United already have and would bring the best out of Maguire due to their pace.