Man Utd add “monster” defender who plays like Van Dijk to their wish list

Manchester United are keen to bolster their squad in a few key positions this month, with the striker role being the most talked about.

However, a centre-back is also a priority position to purchase, with the 2-2 draw against Spurs highlighting their vulnerability at the back at times.

In that game, Lisandro Martinez received a warm welcome back to the field, but Erik ten Hag still needs to scan the market to find the Argentine a partner.

Sky Sports journalist Florian Plettenberg recently took to X to state that Man United could move for Matthijs de Ligt, as he is on Ten Hag’s wishlist.

The Dutch centre-half is reportedly unhappy at Bayern Munich, with Thomas Tuchel favouring others in his defence.

Any move is likely to occur in the summer rather than in January, especially considering United’s limited budget this winter.


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How De Ligt fits into the Man Utd team

With Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, and Harry Maguire all dealing with injuries and failing to nail down the right centre-back role this season, that spot is open for a new defender to thrive.

In truth, the aforementioned trio aren’t the most reliable, yet a player that the boss can rely upon is De Ligt, who he knows extremely well from their time together at Ajax.

De Ligt’s record under Ten Hag







Yellow cards


Red cards


Minutes played


Clean sheets


Stats via Transfermarkt.

However, the 24-year-old has only played 12 matches across all competitions this campaign, yet five of those were only cameos off the bench.

Since bursting onto the scene at Ajax in 2017, his career hasn’t really progressed, but he has the chance to revive it at Old Trafford under Ten Hag, who knows how to get the best out of him.

The table below displays De Ligt’s statistics from the last year across the top European competitions and how they compare to his positional peers.

De Ligt’s Stats


Stats (per 90)

Ranking in Europe

Aerials won


Top 7%



Top 11%

Passes completed


Top 9%

Pass completion %


Top 8%

Passes into final third


Top 5%

Progressive passes


Top 8%

Stats via FBref

De Ligt is the very definition of a “monster,” as per football writer Ben Mattinson, with his 6 foot 2 frame allowing him to bully opposition attackers. He is a dominant defender who is particularly untouchable in the air, as shown by his ranking in the top seven % of defenders in Europe for aerials won, which would be important next to Martinez, who can be targeted due to his lack of height for a centre back.

That said, the Red Devils’ number 6 excels with the ball at his feet, as displayed by his 3.92 passes into the final third per ninety, and the former Juventus rock also thrives in possession, with the above passing statistics all ranking in the top 10% for centre backs.


The above also certainly sounds like it could be used to describe Virgil Van Dijk, and even Nathan Ake alluded to the fact that De Ligt shares plenty of similarities with the Liverpool captain, saying: “

“He’s quick, strong for his age, very good in the air and on the ball he is very good. He scores so many from set-pieces so he’s got a lot of the same attributes as Van Dijk.”

FBref supports the Man City player’s claim, with the Bayern defender being classed as a similar player in their similar players model.


In short, De Ligt would elevate United to an entirely new level, and Old Trafford could be the perfect environment for the Netherlands star to thrive.

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