Manchester United have completing the signing of Swedish central defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica on a four year deal.
With the option of a fifth year also available, the Scandinavian kicks off Jose Mourinho’s summer spending as the Portuguese boss looks to build on last season’s Community Shield, EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs.
Sealing the Europa League last month also saw a return to the Champions League, a competition Lindelof is familiar with, including knockout round experience, a stage United should be aiming for at the minimum come next season.
Relatively young, the defender doesn’t turn 23 until next month, in a move similar to that of Eric Bailly this time last year.
Largely unknown at the time, Bailly became Mourinho’s maiden incoming after taking over the Old Trafford reigns, also aged 22 at the time, for a similar price to that of Lindelof.
Arguably the best signing of the four, Bailly had an exceptional campaign, and if it weren’t for his early season injury and African Cup of Nations participation, he would’ve had a real chance at being crowned Player of the Year as the fans took to the Ivorian extremely quickly.
Establishing himself as a fan favourite will also be on the mind of Lindelof, but the positive reception to this signing is already there for all to see.
In an area that certainly needed strengthening, a Bailly-Lindelof axis has given the Old Trafford faithful a potential centre-back pairing for the next decade should they keep themselves fit.
Having seen too many personnel alterations since the Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic bedrock at the heart of the defence, Mourinho, a man who prefers continuity and doesn’t like to tinker, will hope Lindelof can partner Bailly in order to build a foundation from the back.
Despite being right-footed, the man who’s already into double figures for caps for Sweden has played the majority of his club career on the left side of the defence, which also bodes well when potentially accompanying Bailly.
Ever present at last summer’s European Championships, Lindelof also claimed glory for the Sweden U21 side back in 2015 and was named in the Team of the Tournament.
His taste for trophies is not limited to that crown, having won the Portuguese league thrice, cup twice, and was part of the 2016 Champions League Breakthrough XI on an individual basis.
This winning mentality will go far at a club which demands the best, with room for improvement and age on his side key factors as to why he is so highly rated.
Mourinho’s knowledge of Portuguese football and his good ties with Benfica would’ve helped negotiations, and the prestigious boss is no slouch when it comes to spotting talent at the back.
This is the manager who signed the vaguely known Raphael Varane for Real Madrid and Kurt Zouma during his second spell at Chelsea, with Bailly as mentioned a standout performer during his first 12 months despite making less than 50 first team appearances in his career prior to the move.
One attribute that has drawn Mourinho to this signing is Lindelof’s ability to play out from the back.
Known as ‘Iceman’ by previous teammates, his calmness on the ball and vision to pick out a pass would see any midfielder sit up and take note.
As should be the prime objective for any defender, he can defend; standing at 6 ft 2 inches tall he is good in the air, strong in the challenge and received rave reviews from a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the back end of last year.
Although technically a free agent due to his injury, Ibrahimovic is expected to continue his rehabilitation at Carrington, where his bubbly personality and experienced head will help keep spirits at a high, and help mentor his fellow countryman as he settles into life in England.
Lindelof has also played at right-back during his short career to date, where his versatility could play an important role next season.
Including the Super Cup against Real Madrid on August 8, United face eight fixtures between now and the start of the Premier League campaign, allowing plenty of matches in order for players like Lindelof to boost their match fitness, gel with his new teammates on and off the field and create an understanding with those around him as they get to know his game whilst showcasing his obvious abilities.
Without trying to build him up too much, he could well face a baptism of fire in one of if not the most physical and fast paced league in the world, but Lindelof is well positioned to have a long and prosperous career in the northwest of England.