According to reports from France, Jose Mourinho is sniffing around The Emirates for reinforcements this summer, though he may struggle to complete this deal.
It is well known that one of Mourinho’s priorities in the market this summer is to sign a new central defender, and according to Le 10 Sport, the new Manchester United manager has contacted Arsenal asking to sign Laurent Koscielny. It is understood though that the club have informed Mourinho that the player is 100% not for sale and it is believed that the player also has no interest in the move. That’ll be pleasing for Arsenal fans, but somewhat concerning for United fans.
Manchester United’s lack of Champions League football is unlikely to convince many top defenders to join the club, despite Mourinho’s presence. The club is no longer held in such high regard and this just highlights the impact Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure continues to have at the club. The fans will now hope that Mourinho can bring in a new consistency to the club and sign some top players. With Koscielny staying put, what other defenders could be targeted?
Mourinho is probably seeking a partner for Chris Smalling, so he will attempt to find a quick defender who also has physical attributes to succeed in a Mourinho-style defence. Daley Blind could join Barcelona as Mourinho prefers to play with taller, quicker defenders. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly would be a good fit due to his natural strength, height and pace that would give him a distinct advantage when defending against strikers in the Premier League. His form this season has seen him labeled as the best centre-back in Serie A by many, and Mourinho will certainly know all about him.
Statistics show that Mourinho is probably right to want to pursue Koscielny to replace Blind, although the numbers also highlight how different the two are as players. Blind has managed more tackles per 90 minutes (1.94) than Koscielny (0.85) although this could be down to the Dutchman at times playing in midfield. In every other area we looked at Koscielny comes out on top comfortably. The Frenchman has managed 4.02 interceptions to Blind’s 2.31, 3.26 aerial duels won compared to 0.98 for the Dutchman and finally Koscielny makes a defensive error half as frequently as Blind.
In terms of Koulibaly’s stats, he is also ahead, but not by quite as much, of Blind’s in all areas except for tackles won, but he comes close (1.48). The 6ft 2’ defender also boasts an 87% pass accuracy alongside 66.13 forward passes per 90 minutes, significantly more than both Koscielny (41.98) and Blind (45.46).
United are not the only club in Manchester looking to sign players from Arsenal now, with Pep Guardiola also eyeing moves for three Arsenal players. It seems clubs may be looking to take advantage of the fact that Arsenal have once again underachieved, although it must be remembered that only Leicester City finished above them in the end.