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13th Feb 2018

Manchester United already lining up Jones and Smalling replacements

Robert Redmond

Jose Mourinho wants new defenders.

Manchester United have only conceded 19 goals in the Premier League this season, the fewest of any team. However, according to The Mirror, Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park has convinced Mourinho to return to the transfer market in order to solve a problem position.

Newcastle United claimed a well-deserved victory over the Red Devils, and Phil Jones and Chris Smalling had an afternoon to forget. Smalling was booked for diving near the half-way line in the second-half, and Newcastle scored from the resulting free-kick, when Matt Ritchie slammed the ball past David de Gea after it landed in his path at the edge of the penalty area.

Few of Mourinho’s side played well on the day, but it was their central defensive pairing which received most of supporters’ criticism. Jones and Smalling didn’t impress, and they were equally uncertain against Tottenham two weeks ago, when Harry Kane gave the duo a difficult evening at Wembley. Jones also scored an own-goal on the night.

The Mirror report claims that Mourinho has had “misgivings” about the pair for some time, and Smalling is likely to leave the club in the summer. Jones’ position is said to be “under serious threat.” Both are out of contract in 2019.

The report claims that United will try sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City for £50m, and they are interested in a transfer for Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. After Liverpool spent £75m on Virgil van Dijk, and Manchester City paid £57m for Aymeric Laporte last month, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see United make a splash in the summer window.

Eric Bailly, United’s most reliable central-defender, is currently recovering from an ankle injury and Victor Lindelof has yet to fully convince since his £35m move from Benfica last summer. Mourinho will reportedly recall Lindelof and Marcos Rojo for the FA Cup tie with Huddersfield this weekend.

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