Aaron Wan-Bissaka to replace Rio Ferdinand as Man United's most expensive defender

Matt Jones 27/06/2019
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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.

VERDICT: HIT

2 VICTOR LINDELOF 

Victor Lindelof 1

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

0725 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

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

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

Phil Jones of Manchester United

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.

VERDICT: MISS

7 MARCOS ROJO

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.

VERDICT: MISS

8 DALEY BLIND

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.

VERDICT: HIT

9 MATTEO DARMIAN

MatteoDarmian

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.

VERDICT: MISS

10 JAAP STAM       

Phil Stamp

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.

VERDICT: HIT

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka deal imminent as Manchester United agree £50m fee

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Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s big-money switch to Manchester United is edging closer, it is understood.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are looking to kick-start their summer rebuild by signing the talented 21-year-old right-back, having so far only brought in Daniel James from Swansea.

It is understood progress was made during talks between United and Palace on Tuesday as Wan-Bissaka closes in on a move to the north west.

The fee is mooted to be an initial £45 million plus £5m add-ons, while United retain the 25 per cent sell-on clause for Wilfried Zaha.

The player is believed to be travelling to the north west to undergo a medical on Wednesday, and is expected to sign a contract worth between £80,000 to 90,000 a week, according to BBC Sport journalist David Ornstein.

Wan-Bissaka, who has been praised for his defensive qualities, impressed for Palace last season but is yet to have won a senior England cap and has only played 42 senior games.


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Man United continue push to sign Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka

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Manchester United are continuing their push to sign Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Having so far only brought in Daniel James from Swansea, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are looking to kick-start their summer rebuild by signing the talented 21-year-old right-back.

Press Association Sport understands that talks between United and Palace continue after Wan-Bissaka returned from the Under-21 European Championship following England’s group stage exit.

There is a belief within Old Trafford that a deal can be struck with Palace for their academy graduate.

Leicester defender Harry Maguire is another player interesting United as they look to improve in central defence, while Press Association Sport understands that Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes is among the rated midfielders.

The Portugal international enjoyed an outstanding season at the Lisbon club, where a number of players are due to return to pre-season on Wednesday.

Fernandes, though, is currently on holiday in Dubai after helping his country win the Nations League. Newcastle man Sean Longstaff is another player on United’s radar.

Ander Herrera’s exit has left United with a hole in midfield, while Paul Pogba is keen to get a “new challenge somewhere else” if possible – something which currently looks unlikely.

Romelu Lukaku is another big-name player open to an exit, but Press Association Sport understands that Inter Milan have yet to make a serious offer.

Questions also remain over the future of the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian.

Meanwhile, Real Zaragoza have denied reports that youngster Mateo Mejia has left the club for United.

A statement from the Spanish club read: “Real Zaragoza has not reached any agreement for the transfer of this player to Manchester United.”

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