Transfers

Man Utd snubbed defender tipped to become ‘£100m star’ despite Darren Fletcher advice

Manchester United is still looking for defensive reinforcements, after spending huge sums on the area in recent years, with Nathan Collins one player who has gone unnoticed.

If there is one position that has summed up Manchester United’s years of mediocrity, it is center defense and their failure to attract the type of players required.

 

Both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lavished the cash on the area but were let down by a who’s who of high-profile transfers. United spent extensively on center-backs during the former’s reign, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof spending more than £60 million combined.

 

Neither has ever completely lived up to their billing and have been let go, with the former being told he is no longer needed. Solskjaer was also handed a large sum of money to address what has become a major issue. The £80 million amount paid for Harry Maguire in 2019 was expected to have a similar energizing effect to that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.

 

Despite being chosen club captain, the England international has yet to live up to his status as the world’s most expensive defender, with many fans believing an upgrade is required. Fortunately for Maguire, new manager Erik ten Hag appears to disagree and has promised he would stay captain in his first season in charge.

 

“Harry Maguire is the captain,” the Dutchman revealed at the beginning of their pre-season tour. “Of course, I need to get to know all of the players, which takes time.” But he has been a captain for a few years and has had a lot of success, so I have no doubts about this.”

 

Last season, Raphael Varane was brought in from Real Madrid to help Maguire, but injuries and difficulties adjusting to the Premier League ensured their defensive troubles continued. Ten Hag has been connected with a number of defenders this summer, notably Lisandro Martinez, although he can also play in midfield.

 

However, the Red Devils may have passed up a long-term solution that was available for as little as £15 million just a year ago. According to the Sun, Manchester United’s technical director, Darren Fletcher admired former Stoke City defender Nathan Collins.

 

Fletcher had the inside track on Collins, having spent time at the bet365 Stadium while the Irishman progressed through the academy, and was concerned that an offer for their academy graduate might be arriving.

 

Before Collins joined Burnley in the Premier League, United decided not to pursue him with a bid. Despite the Clarets’ eventual relegation, the 21-year-old established himself as one of the top flight’s most promising young defenders.

 

Collins is back on the move after only a season, signing a five-year contract with Wolves for £20.5 million. And ex-footballer Roddy Collins believes the top six may have missed out on a player who will eventually cost more than £100 million.

 

Collins told the Irish Daily Star, “I see a lot of similarities between Collins and Paul McGrath in terms of his talent with the ball at his feet, his strength, and the way he plays with his head up.”

 

“He is one of our most promising prospects in a long time. Because of his age and ability, I wouldn’t blink if someone told me he was worth €80 million.

 

“In all honesty, someone will purchase him for €40 million and then sell him for more than €120 million (£101 million). That’s how talented he is. It’s difficult to get excited about defenders, but this youngster has the potential to be a world-class defense and much more. We’re looking at an unbelievable superstar if he avoids significant injury and continues to dedicate himself properly.

 

“People speak about Declan Rice fetching €100 million, so why not Collins? In my perspective, he can accomplish the same job as Rice and more. Rice, in my opinion, is not capable of playing center-back at the international level in the same manner that Nathan Collins is. He’d be in Gareth Southgate’s team by now if he was English.”

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