Manchester United monitoring Porto defender Mangala to bolster defence
United believe they need to bring in someone else to make the handover from the Ferdinand-Vidic era as seamless as possible
Rio Ferdinand will be 35 in November and Manchester United are acutely aware the former England defender could be in his final season at the club. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester United have joined the growing number of clubs closely monitoring the Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala as they plan ahead for the gradual easing out of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
While the Premier League champions will return to the business of trying to bolster their midfield in the January transfer window, possibly renewing their interest in Ander Herrera of Athletic Bilbao, the manager, David Moyes, and the chief executive, Ed Woodward, have also had internal discussions about bringing in a new centre half next summer.
35 in November
Ferdinand will turn 35 in November and, with his well-documented fitness issues, United are acutely aware the former England defender could be in his final season at the club.
Vidic, 32 next month, is a sufferer of long-standing back problems and, while Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are all highly regarded inside Old Trafford, part of the thinking is that all three have a habit of missing chunks of the season through injuries of their own.
Despite their support for each player, United believe they might need to bring in someone else to make the handover from the Ferdinand-Vidic era as seamless as possible.
United have not fully ruled out Ferdinand staying another year but, as it stands, they consider it unlikely and the club’s scouting staff will be regular visitors at Porto matches this season.
Mangala, a France international of Congolese descent, signed for Porto from Standard Liege two years ago and has established himself as one of the outstanding young centre-halves in Europe.
A strong, physical player, renowned for his aerial ability, the 22-year-old was particularly influential in Porto’s successful defence of the Primeira Liga last season.
However, he would not be cheap and there promises to be strong competition. Mangala has a €45 million buyout clause in his contract and is also reputedly on the radar of, among others, Manchester City and Chelsea.
PSG also interested
Monaco asked about him in the summer but valued him more around €35 million and, with Paris St-Germain also interested, there are several clubs in the reckoning that have the financial strength to outdo United. –