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Elseid Hysaj would be perfect replacement for Antonio Valencia at Manchester United

Elseid Hysaj
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester United

Elseid Hysaj would be perfect replacement for Antonio Valencia at Manchester United

The Napoli defender reportedly has a £44 million release clause.

Manchester United are facing a huge summer as they attempt to close the gap on local rivals Manchester City and emerge as title contenders next season.

Jose Mourinho will be looking to strengthen in key areas and a new right-back will be high on his agenda.

Antonio Valencia has been a solid operator since moving to the position a few years ago, but at the age of 32, he is reaching the end of his career and a long-term replacement needs to be sourced.

There has been speculation linking the Red Devils with Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj. The first link came from The Sun earlier this month, who suggested that United were prepared to pay his £44 million release clause.

It is thought that Matteo Darmian is going to join Juventus and the funds brought in by that transfer could be used to bring a player in from Serie A.

Napoli came close to securing a historic Scudetto this season and Hysaj was one of their most consistent performers.

His development has been tied to the career of Maurizio Sarri, having worked with the Italian coach at both Empoli and Napoli. Like Valencia, he is an attack-minded full-back who looks to attack at every opportunity.

Over this most recent season, he was the player to offer width down the right-hand side with Jose Callejon looking to provide support for Dries Mertens in the centre.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Hysaj only got one assist during the Serie A season, but his pass success rate of 86.9% shows how important he was in possession. He rarely gave the ball away and often picked a forward pass to move Napoli further up the pitch.

At times, Hysaj operates as an extra midfielder with his diligent passes and positioning when Napoli don’t have the ball.

 

His tactical awareness and flexibility make him a useful player to have on the pitch, as there is an opportunity to change his role as a match develops.

Mourinho is known for playing percentage football and Hysaj would have to adapt to that, as it won’t be a style that mimics Napoli’s.

However, the Albanian international is a reliable defender and would be able to contribute in his own half of the pitch. Last season, he averaged three ball recoveries and 1.6 clearances in the league.

He will benefit from working under a defensive coach and a move to the Premier League would appeal to him at this stage of his career.

Hysaj has grown up as a player in Italy and his style reflects that, but at the age of 24, he can still develop and a new league would be beneficial. Manchester United remain one of the biggest clubs in the world and they are slowly re-emerging as a force to be reckoned with under Mourinho.

During recent seasons, their recruitment has focused on signing players with name value rather than those that fit the needs of the squad. They now need to change that and recruit the players that will complement the talent.

Hysaj would be a good signing in this regard, as he would offer an upgrade on Valencia and could be the right-back for years to come.

United need to be building for the long-term and the Albanian could represent value for money as he will only get better.

He is one of the most promising full-backs in Europe and it would be a signal of intent if Mourinho manages to bring him to Old Trafford this summer.

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