Manchester United are on the search for a new central defender this summer and they have already been linked with multiples names including Villarreal’s Pau Torres.
RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol is another player that United could consider, but as things stand, Premier League rivals Chelsea have identified him as a top priority for the transfer window.
The Croatian has enhanced his reputation vastly since his move to Leipzig from Dinamo Zagreb last summer, and we look at why the Red Devils should beat Chelsea to the 20-year-old.
At the end of the 2020/21 campaign, there was much talk of United pursuing a left-footed defender. Torres’ name was frequently mentioned before the club went on to land Raphael Varane.
The Spaniard is back on the club’s radar this summer, but we believe Gvardiol would be a better acquisition over the 25-year-old if United are looking for a left-footed centre-back.
Torres has been praised for his ball progression in the opposition half, but averages just 86 per cent of successful passes, only slightly better than Gvardiol (84), who tends to play in a back three.
Aside from this, Gvardiol beats him in other key defensive aspects with more tackles (1.6 to 1.0) and interceptions (1.8 to 0.6) won per league game while winning similar number of aerial duels (1.8).
Torres does fare better with clearances (3.1 to 1.9), but his weakness when it comes to tackling and making key interceptions could make him a vulnerable target in United’s backline.
On top of this, he is not a physically imposing defender despite his height. Gvardiol is definitely better equipped to handling a physical tussle in the box and should only improve with age by his side.
Gvardiol is far from the finished product as he can sometimes be too focused on the ball. He tends to make up with his pace, but there is room for improvement with his positioning.
Still, if United are eyeing a long-term solution, Gvardiol, who is valued at £27 million by Transfermarkt, is a better fit over Torres when it comes to ground defending and winning physical battles.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and WhoScored.com