Manchester United have confirmed a deal to sign Victor Lindelof from Benfica for a reported fee of £30.7m. Having started his career at Vasteras SK in the lower tiers of Swedish football, Lindelof signed for Benfica as a 17-year-old in December 2011. It took him almost two years in the reserves before he finally made his first-team debut in October 2013. Still, however, his appearances for the senior side were few and far between until the 2015/16 season, when injuries gave him his chance to impress as Benfica competed for, and eventually won, the title. Having not featured at all until January, Lindelof was thrown into action as a second-half substitute against Moreirense, and has since gone on to establish himself as a key part of their starting XI and already has international and Champions League experience under his belt.
Since making his first-team debut 18 months ago, his performances not only caught the attention of the Red Devils, but a host of European super clubs. Just eighteen months ago a big-money move to Old Trafford looked a million miles away. But he nearly came to within 121 miles of the Theatre of Dreams when he almost joined Middlesbrough. A deal had been agreed, Boro had booked his flight over, and the defender was set for the north east… Until the move collapsed when Benfica tried to add more clauses at the last-minute.
His form also saw him break into the Sweden squad for Euro 2016, a year after helping the Under-21 side to their European Championship win, and he started all three games as they crashed out at the group stage. He has since gone on to win 12 caps, and scored his first goal against Bulgaria last October. His country man Zlatan Ibrahimovic is convinced that Lindelof could make a similar impact in the Premier League. Ibra said: “I think Victor is doing great things, he is playing good for Benfica, he gets a lot of responsibility for the national team now, he is growing. “Is he good enough for United? I think he’s good enough for the big clubs out there. It’s up to him what he wants. Whatever he chooses will be good for him”.
Linedlof’s Style of Play
One of the biggest problems Mourinho has faced this season has been the number of injuries he has suffered defensively. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have both performed well, but the United boss knows that is not a long-term fix. Summer recruit Eric Bailly had a lengthy-spell out injured as did Chris Smalling. This forced Jose to mix and match with his back four – but Lindelof would have no problem with that. Although a centre-back by trade, the youngster is also capable of filling in at full-back. His positional sense and speed across the ground are two of his biggest assets, allowing him to shut down attacks before they become a threat and keep opponents at arm’s length. He also likes a tackle, boasting a no-nonsense style to his game that should endear him to an English audience once he ends up in the Premier League.
He also has an ability to read the game that is reminiscent of Rio Ferdinand, rarely conceding fouls and picking up very few yellow cards. According to reports in Portugal, Mourinho is understood to be particularly impressed with his speed as well as his defensive capabilities, seeing similarities between the Swede and Raphael Varane, who he managed at Real Madrid. Lindelof’s calmness under-pressure has already earned him the nickname of the “Iceman”. His coolness has helped him to become one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe. And Jose will be hoping that he can maintain his persona and not freeze on the big stage at United.
We also like to end this article with a skills and goals video of him in 2017.