Less than five months after smashing the world-record transfer fee by signing Paul Pogba, from Juventus, Manchester United are set to dip into their bank account again.
This time, it’s only – in comparison to the £89m spent on Pogba – £38m and it’s on a relatively unknown Swedish defender currently plying his trade in Portugal with Benfica, Victor Lindelof.
Lindelof made his Benfica debut in a 2-1 defeat to Porto in 2014 but was not seen again for nearly two years.
Such was his lack of football that he thrice nearly became a Middlesbrough player and had it not been for Benfica constantly changing the terms of the deal he would be at the Riverside, and not on the verge of Old Trafford.
But instead, as a result of an injury crisis at the heart of defence, Lindelof was thrust into the first team and has not looked back since, seamlessly stepping into the breach left by the crocked Luisao and Lisandro Lopez.
Aerial presence, speed, anticipation and coolness on the ball under pressure meant he was actually an upgrade, rather than a replacement, of his two more senior colleagues. Those characteristics, ones highly valued by Jose Mourinho, were consistently on show as he helped Benfica finish the season with a league and cup double.
Winning trophies has become something of a habit for Lindelof, with the Swede helping his country win the Under-21 European Championship in 2015.
Mourinho is already a fan of Lindelof, who can also be deployed at right-back, but so is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was convinced his countryman can make a similar impact to the one he has made made since arriving in Manchester.
“I think Victor is doing great things, he is playing good for Benfica, he gets a lot of responsibility for the national team now, he is growing,” said Ibrahimovic.
“Is he good enough for United? I think he’s good enough for the big clubs out there. It’s up to him what he wants. Whatever he chooses will be good for him.
“I know he is hot on the market so let him make the right choice, what fits him good.”
A fee of £38m seems astronomical for a 22-year-old with only a year of first-team experience under his belt, but with references like Ibrahimovic and a style of play likened to that of Rio Ferdinand, don’t be surprised if Mourinho has unearthed a gem.
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