Manchester United had failed in securing their primary transfer target in the summer as Toby Alderweireld stayed put at Tottenham Hotspur. The Belgian centre-half was extensively linked with a move to United, but both the clubs were unable to agree on a transfer fee.
Jose Mourinho was keen on adding an experienced centre-back to strengthen a shaky backline but has had to make do with what he had.
The cracks in United’s defence have been visible right from the start of the season. They conceded silly goals against Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur as the manager has been unable to identify a stable partnership as Chris Smalling as emerged as the only defender to have kept his place in the team.
Considering the issues created by a consistently weak defence, it wouldn’t be a surprise if United continue to pursue their interest in Alderweireld during the winter transfer window. Liverpool benefitted from a mid-season defensive reinforcement last time around. Hence, United could look to do the same if the fee is viable.
Alderweireld will be out of contract in the summer, but Spurs do have an option to extend his contract by a year. There are various reasons why he could generate interest from Mourinho’s team.
Firstly, Alderweireld is an excellent ball-playing defender, and that could release some pressure off United’s midfielders. Smalling’s abilities on the ball are limited and neither Eric Bailly nor Victor Lindelof has cemented a spot in the team yet.
Alderweireld can play the ball out from the back and would instil the technical qualities in the deeper areas that Mourinho craves. Moreover, he is someone who possesses the aura of a leader at the back.
Alderweireld is vocal, disciplined and could guide the likes of Bailly and Lindelof when required. He arranges the defensive line during set-pieces admirably well. United have been guilty while defending from set-pieces and they could use Alderweireld’s experience and composure in this respect.
He is an experienced player who would instantly boost the quality of the backline and could bring more calmness during crunch situations.
The transfer fee in January would be relatively lesser than the asking price that was this past summer. If there’s any possibility as such, then United should look to lure the Belgian to Old Trafford. Maybe, his inclusion in the team could revive the season or help United in the final stages if they manage a good run now.