Manchester United now want £33.8m defender who is more progressive than Lisandro Martinez

After attempts to sign Jarrad Branthwaite failed, now Manchester United have turned attention to another target.

The search for a centre-back this summer is already proving to be more difficult than it really should be for Manchester United with Jarrad Branthwaite proving too expensive.

Meanwhile, an approach has been made for Leny Yoro who’d be the ideal Raphael Varane replacement although he is in favour of a move to Real Madrid.

But despite these setbacks and frustrations, it is a position United need to and will strengthen this summer, which is why we’re now seeing other names targeted.

Riccardo Calafiori of Bologna FC celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Serie A TIM match between Bologna FC and Juventus at Stadio Re...
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Riccardo Calafiori grabs the attention of Manchester United

For Ineos, plans to secure Jarrad Branthwaite as the big centre-half acquisition of the summer look to have stalled with Everton unwilling to compromise on a £70m price tag.

Therefore, rightfully, Manchester United have now reportedly shifted focus onto one of football’s hottest emerging centre-backs in Riccardo Calafiori of Bologna.

As reported by Tutto Juve, United have also had their eye caught by Calafiori during his breakout season and now impressive Euros campaign.

With Bologna set to ask for €40m which is roughly £33.8m in order to sell, it’s a price well within United’s budget for a defender should it be the deal desired.

United will face heavy competition with clubs like Chelsea and Juventus keen on the centre-half.

Of course, if this is the case, it could mean United make a £68m swoop on Bologna with Joshua Zirkzee’s release clause also worth around £34m.

Riccardo Calafiori is more progressive than Lisandro Martinez

Calafiori has been one of the biggest standouts at the Euros this summer thus far and his stock will only continue to rise.

The 22-year-old is left-footed, however, is capable of playing on the right of a centre-back pairing, which is where he’d line up alongside Lisandro Martinez.

Having cost Bologna a measly £3.3m last summer, they could see him depart for a fee around 10x that.

Calafiori is excellent on the ball, as Erik ten Hag will now be demanding of his defenders and even completes more progressive passes per 90 (3.68) than Martinez does for United currently (3.67).

According to FBRef, this is where Calafiori’s qualities lie as he also completes 1.07 progressive carries per 90 and has an 89.6 per cent pass completion rate.

He also impresses defensively with 1.8 tackles per game, 1.92 interceptions per game, 1.46 blocks per game and 2.3 aerials won per game.

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