Man Utd’s top target is an £88m “superstar” in the making who’s like Saliba

Man Utd’s top target is an £88m “superstar” in the making who’s like Saliba

Manchester United clearly have the need to strengthen their ranks in the winter transfer market.

The Red Devils have endured a puzzling season to say the least in 2023/24, with obstacles seemingly permanently standing in the way of Erik ten Hag.

The Dutchman has had to deal with behind-the-scenes matters concerning Antony and Jadon Sancho while his summer recruits are yet to pull up many trees.

Andre Onana hasn’t looked the part since replacing David De Gea, proving to be notably poor in the Champions League during the 3-3 draw with Galatasaray. As for Rasmus Hojlund, he is yet to find the net in the Premier League, even if a handful of European goals have been forthcoming.


The real issues, however, perhaps lie at the back. With Lisandro Martinez unfit and Raphael Varane not trusted, Ten Hag has had to turn to the likes of Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire. Yeah, not great.

Man United’s January transfer plans

It won’t come as a surprise to see that many of the rumours heading into the January transfer window revolve around defenders.

One target for the club, as per Sky Sports journalist Florian Plettenburg is Jean-Clair Todibo. However, their top target is Benfica centre-back Antonio Silva.

It’s thought the Portuguese youngster possesses an £88m release clause in his contract which could make any deal an easy, but costly one to wrap up.

Antonio Silva’s best qualities

After a Champions League game last season, Jamie Carragher only had praise for a central defender who looks as though he’s going right to the very top.

“I mentioned his defensive prowess. But goalscoring there as well. He is going to be a superstar,” the former Liverpool star stated.


It’s hard to disagree with that viewpoint, particularly when analysing the qualities that make the 23-year-old standout.

According to FBref, Silva ranks in the top 5% of centre-backs across Europe’s top five leagues and continental competitions for short-range pass success with 95.5%. To put that into context, Ruben Dias is the best on the continent in this department over the last year with a 97% accuracy.


Silva is no slouch when it comes to longer passing either, ranking in the very best 1% for medium passes between 15-30 yards. That modern approach will clearly appeal to Ten Hag but the defender is also up for the battle at the back.

He is in the top 3% for percentage of dribblers tackled in Europe and notably, hasn’t made a single error leading to an opposition shot on goal.

Antonio Silva’s most comparable players

As per FBRef, one of the most similar players to the Benfica star is Arsenal sensation WIlliam Saliba.

The Frenchman has been one of the stars of recent times for Mikel Arteta’s men and is a huge reason behind their title-challenging form over the last year.

Antonio Silva vs William Saliba

Stat (per 90)

Antonio Silva

William Saliba

Short pass accuracy



Medium pass accuracy



Passes into final 3rd



% of dribblers tackled






Successful take-ons






Progressive carries



Ball recoveries



Stats via FBRef.

Evidently, they both boast brilliant progressive attributes, whether it be through passing or carrying the ball, but they very rarely get beaten by their marker when it comes to a one-versus-one duel either.

With the United defence proving to be too much of a pushover without Martinez in the side, adding someone of Silva’s calibre to their ranks will no doubt do wonders to help Ten Hag’s project at Old Trafford grow.

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