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          Sporting defender is tipped to join Red Devils

          Q & A on Man Utd transfer target Gonçalo Inácio

          2022/05/11 13:12
          E0

          With Manchester United stumbling to the end of a disastrous season, the Red Devils are already being linked with a host of players including Sporting's highly-rated defender Gonçalo Inácio. 

          The Red Devils new manager Erik ten Hag is expected to inject fresh blood into United's squad this summer, in addition to conducting a mass clearout, and 20-year-old Portuguese centre-back Inacio is reportedly on the Dutch manager's wishlist. 

          To get the lowdown on Inácio, we had a quick chat with our resident Portuguese football expert Daniel Oliveira...


          PM: Hey Dan! Gonçalo Inácio has impressed this season for Sporting, what are his greatest strengths in your opinion?

          DO: Inácio first caught my eye last season in Sporting's championship winning side. He was handed his opportunity by Lions boss Ruben Amorim at just 19-years-old and he seized it superbly. There was an immediate sense that Inácio would develop into a top, top centre-back. His composure, concentration and calm temperament were obvious straight away.

          There's no doubt playing in a block of three centre-backs alongside former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates helped his development, but he has been low-maintenance and very reliable for Sporting. Encouragingly, when he has made mistakes he has taken them in his stride and bounced back very well.

          He's robust physically, though not an absolute powerhouse, and he's got a goal in him, especially from set-pieces.

          His main strength, however, is his ability on the ball which his manager Amorim exploits a lot. Inácio often brings the ball forward to start attacks and has an enviable ability to remain calm and composed even when he is put under pressure. He's also got a fantastic range of passing, and often looks to set his quick forwards free with through-balls behind opponents. 

          PM: Man City's Ruben Dias is an example of a Portuguese central defender who has thrived in the Premier League...can comparisons be made between Dias and Inacio?

          DO: It's always difficult to compare players. 

          One obvious difference is that Dias joined Manchester City when he was 23, so he was further along in his development than Inacio, who is still only 20.

          It is unlikely, therefore, that Inácio could have the same impact as Dias, who was crowned the Premier League's best player at the end of his first season. Dias was always a natural leader and Inácio's communication may be one area in which he can improve.

          Physically-speaking, I believe the young Sporting defender would be able to handle the Premier League, as he is very strong in the tackle and in the air. He's also smart in his defending, as just two bookings all season will tell you. In terms of his quality on the ball, I would probably rate Inácio higher than Dias - he's very good on the deck and has a 91% pass completion rate in the Primeira Liga this term.

          Like I say, it's hard to make comparisons. I'm 100% sure about one thing: the 20-year-old Inacio is a better player than Ruben Dias was at the same age.

          PM: In recent years, Old Trafford has been a graveyard for centre-back talent with the likes of Maguire, Bailly, Lindelof and this season Raphael Varane all struggling to shore up United's backline...how do you think Ignacio would fare?

          DO: There's an obvious question mark. Manchester United are not at their best at the moment, without a doubt, and plenty of good players have struggled there recently. 

          For me, United need to sort their midfield out more than their defence. Many of their current issues stem from a lack of cohesion and defensive cover in midfield and I genuinely think Man Utd's centre-backs are being made to look worse than they actually are. 

          Under Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils will have a completely different approach and it's therefore too early to say whether Inácio would or wouldn't be a good fit. 

          United will definitely be back at some point in the future, though, and getting good, young, hungry players in the door at Old Trafford must be a priority.

          PM: Inacio has hit the ground running since breaking into the Lions' senior side last season, but he is still only 20 - do you think he is ready for a move to the Premier League?

          DO: He'll definitely make the jump, it's just a matter of when. He's already been called up at international level, where is competing for a spot with Pepe, Ruben Dias and Jose Fonte. A Dias-Inacio partnership looks to be the future for Portugal at centre-back. 

          Another season at Sporting playing Champions League football would perhaps do wonders for Inácio, but sometimes you need to take risks and the opportunity to join Manchester United might be too good for him to turn down. 

          If Inácio were linked with Liverpool, I'd have no hesitation in saying he was ready for the move, as I think he would be developed properly and given time to adapt (they are doing incredibly well with Konate at the moment, for example). Is Inácio ready to take on the challenge of Premier League football with United in apparent chaos? The honest answer is: I don't know!

          PM: The season isn't even over yet and loads of transfer speculation is already swirling around; do you think United are seriously in for Inacio?

          DO:  Although I think another season at Sporting may be best for him, Inácio's talent will naturally attract the biggest clubs from around Europe. It won't surprise me in the slightest if United make a bid for him.

          Portugal
          Gonçalo Inácio
          NameGonçalo Bernardo Inácio
          Born2001-08-25(20 -yrs-old)
          Nationality
          Portugal
          Portugal
          PositionDefender (Centre Back)

          Photos(52)

          Liga BWIN: Sporting CP x CD Santa Clara
          Liga BWIN: Sporting CP x CD Santa Clara
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