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20th Aug 2015

Forget Otamendi and Ramos – Here are 5 alternative defensive options for Man United

Nooruddean Choudry

Manchester United’s top two defensive targets, Sergio Ramos and Nicolas Otamendi, have both slipped through the club’s fingers.

The former has renewed his contract at Real Madrid, whilst the latter has – somewhat annoyingly – turned up at Manchester City.

United fans have been left hugely dejected by the perceived rejection, adopting a general view that there are very few suitable options available.

But of course this is bunkum. Here are just five alternatives that could galvanise United’s rearguard…

The Dead Cert – Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

If United are after a defender who would immediately guarantee a fixed padlock on the back line, Diego Godin is their man. He is a strong, experienced, stubborn leader who has proven himself as one of the best defenders in the world during Atletico Madrid’s rise. At 29, there are still a good few years remaining in the locker. He’s an old-school stopper with new-school smarts.

Availability: They say everyone has a price but with Godin, the sense is that he would need to be convinced to leave. The Uruguayan has already turned down big moves to remain at Atletico and may fancy another crack at La Liga this year.

Atletico de Madrid UEFA Champions League Final Media Day : News Photo

The Prodigy – Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)

There are certain footballers who just scream class, even from a young age. Aymeric Laporte is one such player. He is slender of frame but surprisingly robust and exemplary with the ball – an attribute that Louis van Gaal loves in a defender. But what marks him out as a startling talent, even at 21 years of age, is his reading of the game. There is a reason he has been compared to former United centre-back Laurent Blanc.

Availability: His club are a notorious pain in the arse to deal with. Laporte is contracted until 2019 and has a £36.5m release clause – but if Athletic don’t play ball, you’re f**ked.

Barcelona v Athletic Club - Spanish Super Cup: Second Leg : News Photo

The Local Lad – John Stones (Everton)

Another 21-year-old with a less fashionable name is John Stones – yet the Barnsley lad could be a more natural fit for Old Trafford. Despite his tender years, Stones is now used to the unique rigours of the top-flight English football and would slot straight into the side. It’s no exaggeration to suggest he is the most exciting young English defender since Rio Ferdinand – he’s that good.

Availability: Very tough. Everton only sell at premium rates and everything seems to point to an imminent switch to Chelsea, who would be signing a future star. Still, beating the Blues to Stones after they pinched Pedro is surely tempting.

England U21 Training Session : News Photo

The Old Flame – Ezequiel Garay (Zenit St Petersburg)

There was a time when the transfer gossip column inches and world wide web internet pages were constantly filled with stories linking United to Ezequiel Garay. The Argentine spent nearly the entirety of his three years at Benfica on the verge of an Old Trafford move – along with Nicolas Gaitan. He’s at Zenit now, and still a ball-playing centre-half who organises team-mates and likes to supplement attacks.

Availability: He is available at the right price. Strongly rumoured to be making a return to La Liga with either Valencia or Atletico Madrid, but serious interest from United would change all that.

UEFA Europa League - 'PSV v Zenit Saint Petersburg' : News Photo

The Dark Horse – Kostas Manolas (AS Roma)

Manolas isn’t really a dark horse at all. Rather he’s a very accomplished performer who has impressed immensely since joining Roma from Olympiacos last summer. And yet he is rarely mentioned when Europe’s top defenders are listed. It’s odd because the Greek international is wonderfully consistent and reliable. He is also brave and can play a bit when given the opportunity on the ball.

Availability: You get the impression that he is very gettable at the right price, but United would face stiff competition from long-time admirers Arsenal.

Serie A - 'AS Roma v Lazio Roma' : News Photo