Rio Ferdinand is set to leave Manchester United in the summer after the defender was told his contract won’t be renewed. The 35-year-old joined the club from Leeds United and spent 12 glorious years at Old Trafford, where he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and one Champions League.
Replacing a club icon is never easy. Ferdinand (arguably one of the best defenders of this iconic club) and his defensive partner Nemanja Vidic (who also left the club) were considered as one of the finest central-defenders in the Premier League era, and replacing the duo won’t be an easy task.
Here we take a look at five defenders, who are/were linked with Manchester United at some point of time this season and could possibly fill the boots left by Ferdinand and Vidic.
Ezequiel Garay (Benfica)
The 27-year-old has been linked with Manchester United, probably since the time Vasco da Game came to India. Seriously, we have lost count of the number of times, Garay has been linked with United this season & since time immemorial.
The former Real Madrid defender has had a great season with Benfica. A goal scoring defender with loads of experience under his belt – he should be an ideal signing for the Red Devils.
Eliaquim Mangala (Porto)
The 23-year-old French defender has been a target of several Premier League heavy weights, including United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Mangala has a reported release clause of around €50m which not many clubs in the world would be willing to pay for. Portuguese press believes that United have the edge over their derby rival, because City need to comply with the financial fair play regulations,which could curb their transfer spending.
Mehdi Benatia (Roma)
The highly rated Roma defender rejected the chance to join Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge. In March, reports emerged that ex-United manager David Moyes has shown keen interest in the player.
Benatia is strong defender who loves to tackle a lot. However, his key attribute lies in solid reading of the game and good distributions. And he has an uncanny knack of scoring goals as well.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
The 25-year-old is arguably one of the best defenders around, not only in Bundesliga but in the entire Europe as well.
If any defender who can be seen as a like-to-like replacement of Ferdinand, probably it is him. But, with no Champions League football to offer, and Barcelona seemingly sniffing around him, can Manchester United lure the German defender to join Old Trafford in the summer?