MANCHESTER UNITED and Chelsea are desperate to add a touch of class to their defensive ranks this summer.
Both Premier League giants boast exceptionally strong squads.
But both also have a glaring weakness: their centre-backs.
At United, Harry Maguire has been crying out for a strong, long-term partner with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe all rotating alongside him with mixed results.
In Chelsea’s case, Antonio Rudiger has seen his Stamford Bridge career saved, with Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma also impressing.
Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta are coming towards the end of their careers, with Fikayo Tomori likely to make his loan deal at AC Milan permanent this summer.
Now the Blues are set to join Man Utd in diving into the transfer market to add some star quality.
Both clubs have been linked with FOUR big names: Raphael Varane, Jules Kounde, Nikola Milenkovic and Jose Gimenez.
But which of the European superstars has enjoyed the best season? We take a look at the league stats for all four…
Trophies won: 3
Estimated cost: £30m
THE Serbian star has emerged as a potential transfer target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs in recent months.
Milenkovic has impressed despite Fiorentina sitting way down in 15th in Serie A – winning just seven of their 30 matches.
With the Viola struggling, the 6ft 5in defender will surely be desperate for a move and will be available for just £30m.
Milenkovic has won three trophies in his career – all in Serbia with Partizan – and is yet to win a tournament while playing for a Big Five leagues team.
Out of the four defenders, Milenkovic has played more games – and more minutes – than any other this season.
The Serbian has also won the most tackles and aerial duels per 90 minutes – as well as boasting the best aerial duel success rate.
Milenkovic has also scored more than his three rivals, with three Serie A goals this term.
Club: Real Madrid
Trophies won: 19
Estimated cost: £60m
THE biggest name on the list, Varane would be a major coup for any side in the world.
Real Madrid could lose Varane AND Sergio Ramos this summer as they battle the financial effects of coronavirus while saving money for mega-money moves for Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
The French legend is out of contract at the end of NEXT season and could walk away for free.
Desperate to avoid that fate, Madrid could cash-in this summer for a staggeringly good-value £60m – when you consider Maguire cost United £85m.
Varane has won 19 major trophies in his career, including three LaLiga crowns, four Champions League titles and the 2018 World Cup with France.
In terms of head-to-head stats, Varane leads only in tackling success rate, having won 65 per cent of his ground duels.
Trophies won: 1
Estimated cost: £50m
KOUNDE has emerged almost from nowhere to become one of Europe’s hottest properties.
The Sevilla star has continued to impress in recent months and is now being chased by Europe’s elite, including Real Madrid to replace Varane and or/Ramos.
Still young, Kounde has just the one trophy to his name – the 2019-20 Europa League, when he was also named in the tournament’s Squad of the Season.
But he has all the talent to catch up with the likes of Varane, and even leads the quartet in terms of minutes per goals, conceded, clean sheets and interceptions per 90 minutes.
Club: Atletico Madrid
Trophies won: 5
Estimated cost: £54m
STILL young but also with plenty of experience, it’s little wonder clubs are chasing Gimenez.
The Uruguayan has spent eight years at Atleti, winning the 2017-18 Europa League among other gongs.
Gimenez was also a losing finalist in TWO Champions League campaigns – in 2013-14 and 2015-16.
Compared to his rivals, Gimenez leads only in goals conceded, letting in just 12 goals – however he has played substantially less than Varane, Kounde and Milenkovic.
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