Pep Guardiola’s transfer phone call shows Man Utd silver lining in Ruben Dias near miss

Man Utd: Defensive frailties frustrate Solskjaer

Manchester United have been left thinking about what might have been, should they have signed Ruben Dias. The Portuguese has been a revelation since arriving in the Premier League from Benfica, with Manchester City now on course to win back the title from rivals Liverpool following Sunday’s 4-1 demolition of the Reds at Anfield.

Dias has completely renovated City’s depleted backline, which was leaking goals at the start of the campaign.

Now Aymeric Laporte is being kept out of the side by the partnership of Dias and John Stones and City are now recognised as one of the best defensive sides in Europe.

Yet the club’s directors very nearly took a different approach in the transfer market last summer.

A £48million bid was lodged for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde but the approach was rebuffed by the Andalusians.

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Sporting director Monchi admitted the club are open to selling their most prized assets as part of their model, but Kounde would not come cheap.

The player later revealed that he spoke with Guardiola ahead of a potential move to City and was promised regular game time at the Etihad Stadium.

“Yes, I spoke with Pep Guardiola. He had him on the telephone,” he confirmed to Canal Football Club.

“We spoke in Spanish. Everything went well. I was interested in going there and I had guarantees that I would play. But it didn’t happen.”

Kounde was City’s first-choice option and when it soon became clear that Sevilla were not willing to sell up, Benfica star Dias was the next name on the shortlist.

Thankfully, things have not worked out too badly since the £65m signing and Dias has been the standout individual in the Premier League this season.

Harry Maguire was also a top target in the summer of 2019 but Guardiola later revealed that City could not afford his price-tag.

United had the chance to sign Dias themselves that summer and O Jogo even claim that a bid was rebuffed by Benfica.

Ed Woodward and co have since paid the price the hard way as their search for defensive solidity rumbles on.

While United have been left to ponder how Dias slipped through the net, in a strange way they may end up benefiting from City’s acquisition further down the line.

According to The Mirror, Kounde has been identified as United’s top target this summer.

The 22-year-old’s performances this season in La Liga and the Champions League for Sevilla have proved that his form last year was no fluke.

Kounde is regularly influencing games for Sevilla and leading their defence with such maturity at a young age.

With Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Liverpool set to rival United for Dayot Upamecano, it’s his compatriot Kounde who could prove to be the better deal.

Guardiola is usually a good judge of talent and his conversation with the player suggests he is destined for the very top.

World-class central defenders are hard to come by but in Kounde, United may find the answer to their defensive problems.

He is comfortable on the ball and likes to bring it into midfield.

Not only that but Kounde is quick across the ground and reads the game exceptionally, something United are clearly lacking at the moment.

Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have all struggled for consistency since arriving at United but the capture of Kounde could prove to be a game-changer for Solskjaer.

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