Five centre-backs that Ferguson should sign

In the past, Manchester United have, more often than not, been defensively astute. Often basing their domestic and continental achievements on a solid backline, it has proven to be an impressive means towards achieving their unprecedented levels of success.

This season, however, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have looked suspect at the back. Despite finding themselves at the summit of the Premiership, United have conceded an astonishing 23 goals this year, with the veteran boss admitting his strikers have come to the club’s aid more often than not during the 2012/13 campaign.

Injuries may’ve hampered the 12-time Premier League Champions as they look to wrestle the title away from neighbours Manchester City. Nemanja Vidic missing hasn’t helped their chances, not to mention the poor performances from Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans at one time or another as the campaign has dragged on.

While Chris Smalling and Phil Jones continue their respective returns from injury, it’s fair to say investment is still a necessity for Ferguson. A defender must be high on his priority list and there are numerous contenders around the world that the veteran Scot could bring in, should the funds be available.

Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund

The Germany international has emerged as one of the games finest centre-backs over recent months, having enjoyed a productive Euro 2012, regardless of Die Mannschaft’s semi-final exit at the hands of Italy. Establishing himself as one of Borussia Dortmund’s regular starters, it’s no surprise to have seen Hummels make over 100 appearances for Die Schwarzgelben.

Quick off the mark, an excellent reading of the game and strong in the tackle when he needs to be, the 23-year-old has been touted to reach the top of the footballing ladder as he continues to grow and mature.

Hummels has regularly been compared to Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, such is there characteristics and playing style, and it’s no surprise that United have regularly been linked with a move for the youngster in the past. His capabilities in the heart of the backline, coupled with his versatility, would only bolster Ferguson’s defence in the long run.

Andrea Ranocchia – Inter Milan

Quick, tall, powerful – the 24-year-old is a defender that any team would be lucky to have within their ranks. Ranocchia may’ve only been part of the Inter set-up for a little under 24 months, but his performances in the backline are likely to have seen a number of Europe’s heavyweights sit up and take notice of the youngster.

Now an established member of the national team, Ranocchia’s asking price is expected to have soared as Inter continue their pursuit to end their two-year wait for a trophy. The young defender is expected to play a pivotal part in that alongside Walter Samuel and Juan Jesus in Andrea Stramaccioni’s three-man defence.

Like Hummels, Ranocchia is exactly the type of defender Ferguson could utilise to plug the leaky United backline. His powerful characteristics would bring out the best in Smalling, while proving to be a more than adequate replacement for the aging Vidic.  

Dede – Vasco da Gama

A pivotal member of the Copa do Brasil winning side in 2011, it’s no surprise to be seeing Dede’s stock continuously rise. The 24-year-old has been regularly linked with a move away from Vasco da Gama over recent months amidst reports AC Milan are keen on taking him Italy.

United were credited with an interest in the defender back in March, but any move failed to materialise. However, with the summer transfer window in Brazil set to open shortly, the Manchester giants could well renew their interest in Dede next month, especially with scout Jaap Stam’s glowing reports of the youngster earlier this year.

His aerial capabilities and strength in the tackle would further bolster Ferguson’s option in the heart of the defence, especially with Vasco’s current financial problems. Tipped as the biggest star to come out of Brazil behind Neymar, it is expected that the defender will form the cornerstone of the backline for the nation’s 2014 World Cup squad.

Toby Alderweireld – Ajax

Another product of the famed Ajax youth system, Alderweireld has continued to impress in the backline of the Eredivisie giants. Following the departure of Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham Hotspur over the summer, the Belgium international had been expected to make his mark on the first-team squad and hasn’t disappointed.

The 23-year-old has emerged as one of the most prodigious talents in European football after a number of sterling performances for Ajax in the Champions League and in Holland. Vertonghen’s move to England has seen him grow in stature throughout the club and it’s no surprise to have seen him appointed the club’s vice-captain, behind Siem de Jong.

A continental centre-back, who can also play right-back, his capabilities would surely come in useful to Ferguson, especially given Ferdinand’s age and injury problems. His physicality would also provide the necessary sturdiness in the back four as United look to plug their leaky defence in search of their 13th Premier League title.

Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid

United haven’t a popular track record in regards to purchasing Uruguayan’s – Diego Forlan, is a prime example of this. However, in compatriot Godin, Ferguson would certainly be able to bring in a reliable centre-back should the opportunity present itself.

Physically commanding, but extremely quick off the mark, the 26-year-old – the oldest out of the five defenders on the list – Godin possesses all the necessary traits to succeed in England. Chelsea may’ve shown an interest in the Atletico Madrid defender in the past, but it is United that should be looking to oust their Premiership rivals in the race to sign the Uruguay international.

Despite his age, the former Villarreal ace possesses experience in abundance having already made over 60 caps for the national team, coupled with his five-and-a-half years of consistent La Liga playing time.