Last night at 8:00pm Pacific Time, Manchester United faced off against AC Milan in their first match of the International Champions Cup. One thing was painfully noticeable for United: they are in desperate need of a center back.
The pairing of Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling were not up to the task, as the Milan attack caused them problems all evening long. Yes, it was just a preseason friendly and there is still time before the Premier League begins on August 10th; however, the defense is a major question mark for the club and last night provided no reassurances. Jamie Vardy and Leicester City will be knocking on their door at Old Trafford before you know it.
Coincidentally, on the other side of the field, there was an experienced, top class center back playing for Milan. His name is Leonardo Bonucci and rumors have been ripe this past week that he wants to leave his current club.
Last year, when the Italian made the move from Juventus to AC Milan, it shocked the football world, but a move away from the Rossoneri this time around is not that crazy of an idea. Milan are in the midst of a rebuild. The club just changed ownership, again, and replaced all of the top level management except for manager Gennaro Gattuso. They offer no Champions League football once more this upcoming season, and are not expected to challenge for the title in Italy. It would make perfect sense for the club to move on from Bonucci’s high wages, and for the defensive stalwart to move onto a team that is ready to win now.
Manchester United would be the perfect fit for Bonucci. They are desperately in need of a world class center back. Someone who can take the field week in and week out and perform at the highest levels, both in England and in the Champions League.
A player of Bonucci’s stature would create such confidence for the rest of the squad. In addition to all of this, Bonucci would thrive under Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho’s tactics are based on organization and structure. Bonucci’s first manager at Juventus, Antonio Conte, also had a similar defensively organized structure and that’s where the Italian’s career really began to take off.
United’s ability to play on the counter attack is also the perfect fit for Leonardo. He is one of, if not the, best defensive passing threats in world football. His ability to send accurate long balls up the field would be perfect for Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and the rest of the United attack.
Just yesterday alone Bonucci showed that he is a creative threat from the back as he sent a beautiful ball up the field to Suso, who was able to rocket it home passed Lee Grant for Milan.
Of course, there are potential roadblocks from this deal happening. One of which is Bonucci’s desire to stay in Italy. Last year, when he wanted a move away from Juventus, he requested a move to Milan because he did not want to leave the peninsula.
The latest rumors have also stated that his desire is to return to Juventus, so it might be a difficult task for Manchester United to try and persuade him to come to England. He has wanted to stay in Italy due to personal, familial reasons, and that might be too much to overcome.
If he does indeed decide to leave Italy, there will also be competition from other clubs, namely Paris Saint-Germain. This might also be a tough option for United to overcome as in Paris he would be well paid and he could reunite with his good friend, Gianluigi Buffon.
There are many moving parts in the situation surrounding Leonardo Bonucci, but one thing is for sure: Manchester United should be doing their best to sign him. Last night’s preseason match was an indication of just how much they need a strong defensive center back. It would take some convincing, but the ultimate benefits United would receive from signing such a player might just be what they need to change their fortunes around in this upcoming season.
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