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Why Jean-Clair Todibo is a MUST Sign for Manchester United

Jean-Clair Todibo has been linked several times to Manchester United and the links have continued since Nice owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe purchased a minority stake in the Red Devils. While it has been rumoured Ratcliffe is looking to sell his team from the south of France, multi-club organisations are not uncommon in today’s football and they are used at the top level. Most recently with Savio signing for Manchester City after a spell at Troyes (owned by the CFG) and a spell at Girona (owned by the CFG).

Manchester United should be able to sign Todibo at a reduced price and without worrying about competition due to their ownership status. However, this isn’t the only reason Manchester United should sign the young French centre-back – he is a perfect replacement for Raphael Varane who is departing the club on a free transfer.

Statistical Breakdown

The statistics show that Todibo’s biggest strengths are on the ball and when in possession, obviously this makes him an ideal candidate to join the club and start next to Lisandro Martinez. Being good on the ball is crucial for a centre-back in the Premier League, especially at Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United. Todibo’s most impressive in possession qualities are as follows:

  • Touches (94.35) – 96th percentile
  • Carries (76.28) – 98th percentile
  • Progressive Carrying Distance (217.62) – 97th percentile
  • Passes Completed (75.64) – 94th percentile
Todibo switching the play against Lyon

Todibo also has the ability to switch the play at a long distance, with accuracy. In the screenshot above, the French centre-back receives the ball on the halfway line and plays a long ball over the entire Lyon mid-block. This is a skill that isn’t common in centre-backs and can often result in a cross or shot from the winger, especially in a positional play system, like Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United.

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Obviously a centre-back also needs to be strong defensively as this is their primary responsibility. This becomes even more important at Manchester United due to their high-pressing style that can frequently leave defenders man-for-man with the opposition’s attack. Jean-Clair Todibo’s most impressive defensive stats are as follows:

  • Tackles in the attacking third (0.20) – 96th percentile
  • Dribblers challenged (1.90) – 89th percentile
  • Ball recoveries (7.20) – 97th percentile

The above shows that Todibo is capable of playing in a high-line, high-pressing system. He is comfortable engaging the attacker before the attack has begun, and he has the recovery pace to get back before the opposition can expose the space on the counter.

When directly compared to Raphael Varane, Todibo outranks him in the in-possession statistics and is close to him in every over category. This chart shows that Todibo has a similar profile to Varane and would therefore be a suitable replacement while improving the team in possession. However, as can be seen, there is a potential issue. Both Todibo and Martinez statistically struggle in the air and this could lead to being dominated by the physical strikers of the Premier League. However, statistics don’t always tell the full story.

Varane, Todibo and Martinez compared to each other using Data MB

Is Jean-Clair Todibo Actually Weak In The Air?

Francesco Farioli’s Nice side have conceded just 29 goals in Ligue 1 this season, keeping 17 clean sheets in the league. This is the result of a high-pressing team and a solid centre-back partnership of Dante and Todibo. The experienced Brazilian has a much higher aerial duel percentage win rate, with 63.2%, and the goalkeeper (Bulka) has 32 high claims this season. With the current players around him and Farioli’s tactics, Jean-Clair Todibo does not need to be an aerial threat because that burden is taken away from him.

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At Manchester United Todibo would need to become more aggressive in the air but at 6’2 this shouldn’t be a problem, especially if Jarred Branthwaite is signed as well as the Frenchman. As can be seen below, in Branthwaite’s two seasons as a professional footballer he has had a very strong aerial success rate – showing this against physical strikers like Erling Haaland, Ivan Toney, Luuk De Jong, and more.

Screenshot 2024 06 14 at 15.16.56

Branthwaite and Todibo statistically compare very well and their profiles could form a very solid defensive partnership, that are comfortable in and out of possession. However, while this would be a great centre-back pairing, this leaves Lisandro Martinez out of the team unless Ten Hag shifts to a back three.

Todibo on the right of a back three in possession

This screenshot (taken from an in depth analysis of the Frenchman) shows Todibo on the right of back three while in possession. Therefore that means a back three is an option for ten Hag at United, wether this is just in possession or out of possession as well. Branthwaite and Martinez would be options for the other two centre-back positions; Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, and Willy Kambwala would all be able to cover across the back three as well.

While clearly a great player, Todibo is also an easier signing than most due to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s ownership of Nice and this opportunity cannot be missed. Manchester United would be signing a very high-quality centre-back, who is only 24 and can be signed at a discounted rate.

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