Manchester United have reached an agreement with Crystal Palace for the transfer of England Under-21 right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The 21-year-old is expected to join imminently in a deal that with add-ons may push the final price to around £50m.
When ratified it will be the second signing of the summer and the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, while the fee will make Wan-Bissaka the most expensive defender in United’s history.
But how do the previous most expensive Red Devils defenders hold up to scrutiny? Here we rate the top-10 as it currently stands and deliver our verdict.
1 RIO FERDINAND
Arrived: July 2002 from Leeds United, £30m
Undoubtedly one of United’s greatest signings of the Premier League era. If £30m were splashed on a centre-back today, eyebrows would still be somewhat raised. Back in 2002, it was a mindblowing sum.
Ferdinand remains inside the top-10 most expensive English players of all time – Wan-Bissaka’s imminent arrival is due to bump him down to No6.
Made a total of 455 appearances for the Red Devils – placing him 19th on United’s all-time games played list. Was the bedrock of United’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson – winning six league titles, two League Cups and the 2008 Champions League – and formed a devastating defensive duo with Nemanja Vidic, the greatest centre-back partnership in the club’s history.
2 VICTOR LINDELOF
Arrived: June 2017 from Benfica, £30.8m
Arguably the only other player who would have been more befitting of United’s 2018/19 Player of the Season accolade, and the only central defender fans unanimously want to keep.
The ‘Ice Man’ had a superb 2018 World Cup for Sweden – who reached the last 16 – and the 24-year-old carried that into a stellar campaign club in which he comfortably put to bed his misgivings from an uncomfortable debut season in red.
United reportedly turned down an approach from Barcelona earlier this month. If only the club could marry him with a centre-back of equal composure and ability, their defensive fragility would be imminently forgotten. If he can enjoy a commanding 2019/20, club hero status beckons.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
3 ERIC BAILLY
Arrived: June 2016 from Villarreal, £30m
Enjoyed a stellar debut season in a red shirt, injecting much-needed steel, strength as well as pace and confidence as Jose Mourinho looked to return United to a force.
But, after featuring in 38 games in all competitions during that maiden 2016/17 campaign, he has played just 36 times in total over the course of the last two as injuries and wretched form have seen him regress horribly.
At 25 he still has time on his side to turn his Old Trafford career around, and he’s a more assured option than others around him, but he is entering his final year so needs a big season.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
4 LUKE SHAW
Arrived: 2014 from Southampton, £27m
It seems strange to be sitting here and asking ourselves whether someone who’s just won the club’s Player of the Year accolade is a hit, miss or maybe. But this is the conundrum that is Luke Shaw’s Old Trafford career.
He’s just enjoyed his most consistent campaign to date, playing 40 games. Only David De Gea and Paul Pogba made more starts, only Chris Smalling, Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic featured more times. He even bagged his maiden United goal and won three of United’s 10 player of the month awards during the campaign.
And yet you still can’t shake the fact that he’s not yet the all-round full-back, with fitness, positioning and work-rate remaining nagging issues.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
5 DIOGO DALOT
Arrived: June 2018 from Porto, £19.8m
Showed plenty of promise during his maiden campaign in England and while he seems a way off the finished product, is one of very few United players who emerges from a tumultuous campaign with any credit to his name.
Played 23 times in total and while there will be plenty for both player and the coaching staff to analyse over the summer, there was plenty to suggest he has a bright future in a red shirt.
Tenacious, tricky and brave, perhaps it’s a while before we see the 20-year-old Portuguese settle into his natural right-back berth, but he could feature prominently next season in a back-up right-wing role or fill in as Wan-Bissaka’s deputy.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
6 PHIL JONES
Arrived: June 2011 from Blackburn Rovers, £17.37m
What a shame it’s been to witness a career meander meekly along when at the beginning it seemed so promising. Indeed Jones was hailed as the next Duncan Edwards by Ferguson, who said of him: “Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player.”
Way to put the kiss of death on that, Fergie. A rampaging and rambunctious, old school defender who could equally overpower or outmanoeuvre opponents, Jones’ Reds career has instead been punctuated by a series of debilitating injuries, much of which have been the Englishman’s own doing.
Committed and fearless he may be, but he also appears brainless too, seemingly unable to tackle with any regard for his own safety.
His time at United appears destined to be best defined by a hilarious set of gurning memes.
7 MARCOS ROJO
Arrived: August 2014 from Sporting Lisbon, £16m
There’s some players whose United careers you can look back at and say they failed because they were unlucky, unloved or because it just wasn’t meant to me, like with Jones.
But when it comes to Marcos Rojo, you genuinely wonder why he was ever bought by the club, and how on earth he has survived this long. The reckless Argentine has played just 18 games in the last two seasons, including just 211 minutes in the Premier League last term.
A year previously he featured in just nine league games, and yet, was offered a lucrative new three-year £80,000 per week contract last March.
His Reds career has been pockmarked by erratic defending and wild tackles. In his final appearance of the season against Chelsea in late April, he’d been on the field seven minutes when the referee somehow missed a studs up tackle on Willian.
How he remains at Old Trafford is as maddening as his madcap defending.
8 DALEY BLIND
Arrived: August 2014 from Ajax, £13.8m
Perhaps not a player you would jot down as the first name on your teamsheet if you were manager, but a willing worker, capable footballer and a consistent and versatile performer whenever he took to the field.
His departure last summer was a bit baffling to some United fans. He was hardly someone at the top of many fans’ chop list, especially considering Jones, Smalling, Rojo and Darmian remained at the club.
Played 53 games during 2018/19 as Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals, the unsung hero who calmly guided rising superstars Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt through a special season.
9 MATTEO DARMIAN
Arrived: July 2015 from Torino, £12.7m
Hard to label a £12.7m acquisition from Torino a flop, but it’s also hard to harbour any love for a player who’s simply been a passenger for his four years at Old Trafford.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Darmian’s arrival in the summer of 2015, the AC Milan graduate who’d just enjoyed a stellar season at Torino. United had just waved goodbye to Rafael and were in need of a player to take hold of the No2 slot, and Darmian’s first season was encouraging, scoring a goal in 39 total appearances.
And yet, in following seasons, he was passed over for the position time and again by makeshift right-backs Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, appearing just seven times in total last term.
10 JAAP STAM
Arrived: August 1998 from PSV Eindhoven, £10.75m
“Jaap Stam was the one. Without a question, I made a mistake there.” Well, you won’t have often heard Fergie admit to making a mistake. But selling Stam was arguably the iconic Scot’s biggest regret during 27 largely glorious years as United boss.
A hard-nosed, combative, powerful yet ultimately classy, elegant and speedy defender, most of Stam’s defensive battles were won as soon as the attackers lined up next to him in the tunnel.
In three brilliant but brief seasons at Old Trafford Stam won three Premier Leagues, one FA Cup and the Champions League, but was sold early in the 2001/02 campaign, allegedly because he alluded to Ferguson’s approach to buy him from PSV being done without the permission of the club in his autobiography.
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