Having only conceded a single goal in their last four fixtures, the Manchester United defence is now beginning to take shape under Jose Mourinho’s management, just ahead of the busy Christmas period.
However, the Portuguese has never been a man to rest on his laurels, and it seems the in-form partnership of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo might be kept on their toes by the rumoured signing of Benfica’s central defender Victor Lindelof.
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But who exactly is this youngster, who has been tipped for a big-money move to Old Trafford? Let’s take a quick look:
Full name: Victor Jörgen Nilsson Lindelöf
Cost Benfica Just €100,000
Benfica stand to make a huge financial gain after paying only €100,000 to add a teenage Lindelof to their reserve ranks in 2012. He had previously been in the first-team at lower league boyhood club Vasteras SK in eastern Sweden.
Selling for €45m (£38m) will see the Portuguese champions make an incredible 45,000% profit on their initial investment in just four short years.
Lindelof is nicknamed ‘Iceman’ at Benfica, the sole northern European in a squad filled with players from Mediterranean countries and South America. In terms of the climate, at least, he might feel a little at home in the cold north of England.
He’ll certainly need to stay cool when faced with aggressive and top class strikers most weeks in the Premier League.
A Versatile and Intelligent Player
Lindelof has played the vast majority of his football this season as a centre-back. It is in central defence where he would be expected to play for United, but it is also helpful to know that he has the ability to operate at right-back if necessary.
What stands out more is how he intelligently reads the game for a player so young. He is rarely caught out of position, much like Rio Ferdinand at his peak, and that means Lindelof is able to nullify danger quickly and efficiently, while he isn’t one for picking up yellow cards.
Passing, as was the case with Ferdinand as well, is also a strength.
Zlatan’s Seal of Approval
Lindelof made his senior international debut for Sweden earlier this year, and was the youngest member of a Euro 2016 squad that was led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic as captain.
The veteran United striker has long spoken positively about his brief international colleague, and believes the starlet has what it takes to make it at the top level.
“He is growing. He has a lot of responsibility with the national team now,” Ibrahimovic said recently. “I think he is ready for the big clubs out there. It is up to him what he wants and what the situation says. Whatever he chooses, it will be good for him.”
Played a Huge Part for Benfica Last Season
Shortly after a 2016 January move to then Championship side Middlesbrough fell through – it is thought that a plane ticket to get him to Teesside was actually booked – Lindelof made his full Benfica debut and subsequently established himself as an important part of the team for the remainder of the season quite quickly.
With the Swede in the line-up, the two-time European champions launched a charge for the title. They continued a winning run that had begun in December and claimed three points in 14 of the 15 games he played in, to make up for a poor start to the Primeira Liga season, and snatch the trophy away from city rivals Sporting CP.
Has Good Champions League Experience
Jose Mourinho is only interested in players that will be able to perform on the biggest stage when United return to the Champions League, and Lindelof has played plenty of games in Europe’s elite competition considering he is still only an emerging talent.
The young Swede played four times as Benfica went as far as the quarterfinals last season, standing out against Bayern Munich, and was an ever-present in the group stage as the club booked a place in the last 16 for 2016/17.
The Lisbon giants drew Borussia Dortmund, but Lindelof won’t be around for those two games in February if he is to join United immediately.
Almost became a Boro boy
It was only twelve months ago, a big-money move to Old Trafford looked a million miles away. But you would be surprised to know that he nearly came within 121 miles of the Theatre of Dreams, when he almost signed for Middlesbrough last January.
A deal had been agreed, Boro had even booked his flight over, and the defender was all set for the north-east… Until the move fall apart when Benfica tried to include more clauses at the last-minute.
Lindelof's game by numbers for Benfica today:
100% tackles won
100% aerial duels won
93% pass accuracy
2 clearances pic.twitter.com/xAtWHeWgJe
— José Mourinho-MUFC (@Utd_JM) December 21, 2016