What will the Red Devils be getting after agreeing a deal with Benfica to sign the Sweden international this summer
Victor Lindelof’s talent can speak for itself, but if the Sweden international was looking for a spokesperson to talk up his qualities, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a pretty useful ally to have on his side.
A day after it was confirmed Ibrahimovic was leaving Old Trafford, United announced a deal had been agreed to sign Lindelof from Benfica following a long pursuit of the centre-half.
Man Utd agree Lindelof deal
He will arrive at United with the backing of Ibrahimovic, who said of his fellow countryman earlier in the season: “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.
“I know he is hot on the market so let him make the right choice, what fits him good.”
High praise indeed, but who is Victor Jorgen Nilsson Lindelof and why has been causing such a stir over the past 18 months?
Well, having first caught the eye while on the books of youth sides in his hometown of Vasteras, his potential was quickly noted by Portuguese giants Benfica.
They moved to add Lindelof to their ranks in December 2011, and have subsequently stood back and admired as a rough diamond has been cut and polished into an international-calibre performer.
As with most young players in continental Europe, a promising centre-half was eased into Lisbon life within the U19 and ‘B’ team set-ups.
A senior debut was made in October 2013, and he had offered enough by the summer of 2015 to be handed fresh terms that extended his stay at the Estadio da Luz through to 2020.
Zlatan: Lindelof is Man Utd class
Keeping potential under wraps is never easy, and Lindelof’s breakthrough in January 2016 – shortly after talk of a potential loan move to Middlesbrough – brought him to the attention of heavyweight outfits outside of Portugal.
Not only did he slot seamlessly into a side heading for Primeira Liga title glory – winning 14 of the 15 fixtures he appeared in – he also proved himself on a Champions League stage against the might of Zenit St. Petersburg and Bayern Munich.
His efforts were rewarded with a senior international bow in March 2016, with a late surge into contention earning him a spot in Sweden’s squad for the European Championship in France.
‘The Iceman’, as he is fondly known, was now big news, and praise from the likes of Ibrahimovic only served to make him even hotter property.
Man Utd receive Perisic boost
United had Lindelof watched by their scouting network extensively and, after he was heavily linked with a move in January, a deal has now been agreed for a reported €35 million (£30.7m).
Despite being just 22 years of age, and with less than 50 first-team outings to his name at Benfica, the youngster has displayed the hallmarks of a man destined for the very top of the game.
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.
Lindelof is also capable of playing out from the back, with buccaneering breaks through midfield meaning that he can turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye – while possessing the strength, at 6-foot-2, to ensure that he is not knocked off the ball and left out of position.
Those bursts can be made from both the centre of a back four or from the right-hand side, with Sweden having utilised him as a centre-half and full-back during their Euro 2016 campaign.
One other interesting thing to note about Lindelof is that, while he is unquestionably a commanding presence, and one who thrives on the physical aspects of the game, he has already acquired a useful knack of staying out of the referee’s notebook.
With United boss Jose Mourinho having been eager to improve his defensive options ahead of a Champions League campaign, he looks to have found a player capable of making his mark on the biggest stage and creating a formidable partnership alongside last summer’s defensive recruit Eric Bailly.