How Denis Zakaria’s signing could impact Eric Bailly’s future at Manchester United

The holding midfielder’s versatility may affect the Red Devils’ transfer policy this month.

Manchester United could be closing in on a first signing under Ralf Rangnick, with reports in Germany claiming they’re in talks with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria.

The Swiss international is a holding midfielder who is adept at breaking up opposition attacks and is also an excellent passer.

It’s an area the Red Devils vastly need to improve in, with opponents finding it too easy to break through the centre of United this season.

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Denis Zakaria. Credit: Getty.

However, Zakaria’s arrival could have a huge impact on another area of United’s team.

What’s been reported?

According to German journalists Christian Falk and Patrick Berger, United are interested in signing the Gladbach man in January.

It’s claimed Zakaria could cost as little as €6-7m, with the 25-year-old’s contract set to expire at the end of season.

Meanwhile, United defender Eric Baily has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with AC Milan reportedly keen on bringing the No.3 to the San Siro.

Bailly has played just four times for United in the league this season. Credit: Getty.

Bailly, who is currently representing Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, is reportedly unhappy with his game-time under Rangnick.

Why would signing Zakaria affect Bailly?

Despite being a midfielder, Zakaria’s potential arrival could increase the chances of Bailly being allowed to leave in January.

That’s because he can also deputise at centre-back, and Zakaria was deployed in the heart of defence during Gladbach’s 4-0 win over Greuther Furth in November, and in the 3-2 loss to Frankfurt last month.

Zakaria also filled in three times at centre-back last season, but has exclusively operated in midfield for the Swiss national team.

How many centre-backs do United have?

United currently have five centre-backs in their ranks: Bailly, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Phil Jones.

Defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi are also out on loan but are set to return ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

It means United aren’t short of options at the back, and four central defenders should be enough to last until the end of the season, especially with Zakaria representing a potential emergency option.

It has been a problem position for the Red Devils in recent weeks, with Varane the only centre-back who has been available for both of the last two games, while the Frenchman has also had injury concerns this season.

Despite that, Rangnick said after Monday’s FA Cup win over Aston Villa that he’s hoping to have all four options available for Saturday’s Premier League encounter, when they once again face Villa.