According to reports, United have reached an agreement for Alex Telles, with the Porto left-back flying to Manchester on Sunday night ahead of a medical. The fee is believed to be around £15.4million, which was earlier rejected by the Portuguese club
The Red Devils have kicked off their 2020-21 Premier League campaign in a substandard manner with 3 points in 3 games and are languishing at 16th place. They began their season with a 3-1 loss at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace, a side which managed to pick up only a point in their final 8 games of last season, with the only highlight of the game being Donny van de Beek’s debut goal in a United jersey.
United struggled to a 3-2 win at Brighton, but their most recent 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at home has stirred up debates. The supporters have lashed out on the lack of United’s transfer activity, given the required additions being evident.
Appalled by their defeat against Palace, Luke Shaw called on United to bring in more reinforcements to strengthen the squad before the transfer window closes. Ironically, United have been in the market for a new left-back, the same position Shaw plays in, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a permanent solution for the grueling campaign ahead.
The Old Trafford management has been pursuing two players – Alex Telles of FC Porto and Nicolas Tagliafico of Ajax – with both of them being in stellar form for their clubs in recent seasons. Telles was the primary target while Tagliafico was seen as an alternative.
After earning a move to European football in 2013-14 by joining Turkish side Galatasaray, Alex Telles was bought by Porto for close to €6m in 2016, where he has played since. The Brazilian left-back played a key role for his side last season, helping them win their 29th domestic league title. He scored 11 goals and assisted 8 in the league last season, making him one of their top contributors in both metrics.
Now, at 27 years of age, the full-back is keen on playing in the Premier League. With Champions League football available at United as well, Telles will want to cement his place in OGS’s team and gun for the starting left-back position in Brazil’s national team.
With only a year left on his Porto contract, Alex Telles was approached first by the United hierarchy. Unfortunately, in the first round of discussions, United were unable to agree to a deal for the Brazilian left-back with a fee of around £15m including add-ons, with Porto holding out for £22.5m.
With the transfer of Telles stalling, United had turned their attention to Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico. He was part of the 2018-19 Ajax squad that awed the football world with their run in the Champions League. The Argentinian left-back had many doubters in his initial season at the Amsterdam club. However, manager Erik ten Hag placed his faith in the diminutive full-back, and the trust he placed in him reaped dividends as the club regained their status as one of Europe’s elite clubs.
United approached Ajax for the transfer of Tagliafico and was quoted the same price (around £23m) as that of Telles. With both players valued the same by their respective clubs, the Reds Devils had to choose between the two left-backs.
It seems now that United have decided on Telles as recent reports state that negotiations again began on Sunday morning, with Porto changing their stance after understanding that no subsequent offers were likely from Old Trafford and Telles’ contract with the club ending next year. Moreover, it is believed that the player requested his present employers to lower their asking price in a bid to secure his move to the Theatre of Dreams.
The transfer of Alex Telles to Manchester United is looking very likely to go through on deadline day and United may no longer need to look at alternatives. However, let’s analyse which player would have been better based on past performance and how they would fit in the gaffer’s system.
According to a study by Total Football Analysis, the Argentine surpassed Telles defensively, as he excelled in key metrics such as recoveries and defensive duels won per 90, which United desperately need for that role. On the other hand, Telles’ goals and assists are way more than his rival.
An important note though is that a lot of his contributions have come from set-pieces, which may not be the case at United, where Bruno Fernandes is trusted with both free-kicks and penalty duties. While Tagliafico boasts better passing and crossing, the Brazilian is better at dribbling into the final third. On an overall basis, the report concludes that the Ajax full-back is better than his Porto counterpart. However, the study also states that several other areas could have been analysed and the report is certainly not definitive.
For the United faithful, it doesn’t matter between Telles or Tagliafico, as long as either of the two arrives at Manchester before the transfer window closes. The supporters would be eagerly waiting for the confirmation of Alex Telles on deadline day.
United have been very inactive in the transfer window, their only addition being Ajax’s van de Beek. They started with a lot of momentum at the beginning with rumors of a Jadon Sancho arrival and several other names being linked for other positions, but they all fizzled out in a couple of weeks or so. Unfortunately, teams like newly-promoted Leeds have made more signings in the summer window.