Amidst reports of Harry Maguire’s departure, we have had various reports linking United to 3 major targets. Those are Jean-Clair Todibo, Edmond Tapsoba and Benjamin Pavard.
Which begs the question, why Pavard?
Versatile and Progressive
Those who followed Pavard previously remember him as a progressive right back with a hell of a strike on him. However, he is so much more than that. Of his 195-game career, only 77 have been played at right back. He has also been deployed in midfield and central defence, and is just solid all around.
It is difficult to properly scale his progressive numbers. As stated previously, he has played a lot of his minutes at full-back, which will skew his numbers and won’t give a proper picture of his potential ability at centre-back. One thing that is clear when looking at the raw data is that he is incredibly involved in the build-up. He has a brilliant ability when on the ball to keep the game ticking, and is a high-level high-volume passer.
What Does the Setup in Pre-Season Teach Us?
We’ve seen Ten Hag continue to tinker with his United side over pre-season. Last campaign we saw how important it is to him for his central defenders to be elite ball players. This was made evident by the acquisition of Lisandro Martinez.
There have been question marks over Varane’s ability on the ball. He has however looked far better this pre-season; he has been far more confident and composed on the ball, while also playing more progressive balls between the lines.
The necessity for the centre-backs to be composed and capable on the ball has only been elevated since Andre Onana joined. They no longer get a chance to breathe, the ball is coming back at them as quickly as they released it.
We’ve also seen a new interesting development, and that is the underlapping centre back. Ten Hag has Varane and Martinez and underlapping and creating options for the full-backs to find. This is helped by both Shaw and Dalot being elite ball progressers, with a great passing range. Only time will tell if Ten Hag will set up the same way with Wan-Bissaka. Either way, this new idea will allow Pavard to thrive.
Overall Feeling About the Deal
I have a feeling that although he is a great player, a lot of people will find this deal somewhat underwhelming. Especially with the fact that he will likely come in to back up Varane, not replace him.
With his age profile, he hasn’t got much room for extra development, so likely won’t ever overtake Varane in the pecking order. As we know with Varane however, his minutes needed to be managed, so Pavard would get a lot of game time. It feels like a short-term sensible fix before we go big in the future.
Overall I’d rate it a 6.5/10 signing.