The future of Man Utd’s defence is a former Barca wonderkid & a clean sheet monster

Only Manchester United could sign arguably Real Madrid’s best defender and best holding midfielder – and then still make them look like a bunch of rookies in as little as 18 months.

It’s great ammunition to poke fun at them with considering they were responsible for ruining childhoods across the globe – especially if you’re a supporter of one of the clubs more directly affected by their success.

But it’s also getting quite tiresome at this point. Like, beyond the point of laughably bad and at the point where even United fans no longer allow themselves to care enough to react angrily, as they’re resigned to seemingly eternal doom.

The noise never stops, though, be it more aimless transfer rumours, takeover speculation or players downing tools.

And with Sir Jim Ratcliffe all but confirmed as having completed his purchase of a 25% stake in the club, there are very quiet murmurings that suggest United will no longer be run like the circus we’ve become accustomed to over the last decade.

In a utopia thought up by United’s online minority, that includes an immediate overhaul of players and staff and a pathway back to the top of the mountain paved with gold.

That will not be happening, and we’ll likely get plenty more laughs out of the Red Devils before they embark on that path.

But all jokes aside, the noises coming out of the INEOS camp thus far are positive. The Glazers now have less control and the internally promoted staff continually responsible for turning United into a comedy are suddenly set to be axed.

Ed Woodward is long gone, his successor Richard Arnold has just followed and football director John Murtough is expected to be next.

Alongside that are transfer rumours. Crucially, sensible transfer rumours. Transfer rumours replacing absurd endorsement deals.

Not a loan swoop for Neymar, not a mega-money deal for a once great but now declining Real Madrid star and certainly not another official noodles partner.

Jean-Clair Todibo has been linked relentlessly with a move to United ever since it became apparent that their defence was shot this season, with Raphael Varane decimated by injuries as usual, and Lisandro Martinez also aggravating a previous injury.

It’s left Erik ten Hag having to instil 35-year-old Jonny Evans – who was signed for free in the summer to save money – as a first-choice player, despite being relegated with Leicester, not being good enough for United a decade ago and only initially returning to be a nice face around the dressing room.

Sounds bleak, because it is. But there seems to be plenty of substance in speculation linking Todibo – who plays his football at Ratcliffe-owned Nice – to defensively calamitous United.

And if a deal can get done, he might just be the domino that knocks every other one back into place on their redemption arc.

The 23-year-old joined Barcelona from Toulouse in 2019, arriving full of promise, but was unable to make it stick and returned to his native France in 2021.

Since then, Todibo has been allowed to draw on his lessons from Spain along with his exceptional talent to blossom into one of Europe’s most exciting right-sided centre-backs.

With Nice flying high in Ligue 1 this season, he’s been crucial to them keeping an absurd nine clean sheets from 11 league games, including in each of his last seven appearances.

Seven consecutive clean sheets. Really. It’s hard to envision a world where that kind of player wouldn’t have an immediate impact at Old Trafford.

Given the constant fragilities at the back for United, it’s a no-brainer deal.

Ratcliffe’s United are at the very start of a new beginning. Once the clearout begins, ensuring Todibo is the first name is the perfect first step back to greatness.

By Mitch Wilks

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