It’s an open secret that Manchester United wish to strengthen their squad during the January transfer window and are reportedly interested in Dan-Axel Zagadou.
Zagadou, who plays for Borussia Dortmund, can play as either a centre-back or left-back and would reinforce a defence that has struggled to keep clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
But what do we know about him? We’ve collected everything you need to know about the 22-year-old.
His career so far
Born in June 1999 in Creteil, a suburb of Paris, Zagadou has long been regarded as one of the hottest defensive talents in Europe.
The defender started his career in the youth set-up at hometown club US Creteil before joining Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 12.
After making nine appearances for their B team, Zagadou moved to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in June 2017, where he signed a five-year contract.
Zagadou has made 80 appearances for the Bundesliga side over the last four-and-a-half seasons but injury problems have undoubtedly stalled his progress at times.
His contract with Dortmund expires in the summer, which has placed Manchester United on high alert. Tottenham have been previously linked with the defender and, perhaps inevitably, Zagadou has appeared on Newcastle United’s radar.
But Ralf Rangnick is thought to be driving United’s push for the player and has reportedly instructed the club to specifically target the defender.
The 22-year-old has represented France up to Under-21 level and, despite the heavy competition, is widely tipped to make his breakthrough into the senior set-up in the next few years.
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) January 5, 2022
Style of play
A centre-back by trade, Zagadou is equally comfortable on the left side of defence – which will place him in direct competition with the likes of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
In truth, he often struggles in the left-back role. But Zagadou has excelled playing as the left centre-back in a back three and his tactical versatility would definitely appeal to United.
Standing at 6ft 5, Zagadou is a physical presence and should have little problems adapting to the physicality of the Premier League.
Blessed with high levels of composure, the defender is comfortable on the ball and dictating play from the heart of the defence. He’s strong in aerial duels with opposition strikers, relishing one-on-one challenges and using his strengths to dominate his opponent.
The Frenchman is an intelligent defender who exploits space via press-baiting, a directional first touch and smart body positioning – it’s clear why a Gegenpressing disciple like Rangnick would be interested in him.
Dan-Axel #Zagadou 💎 V Gladbach
Give him some credit. pic.twitter.com/pQAcwJIE9F
— Molina (@Vorlage09) October 31, 2019
What he’s said
“I know that the contract expires next summer,” Zagadou said in July 2021. “But my focus and that of the club at the moment is on getting healthy again and completing my rehab in the best way possible.”
“Of course, I can imagine it. BVB gave me the chance to prove myself as a professional. If the club sees it the same way I do, I would be very happy to stay at Borussia Dortmund.”
What they’ve said
”I think if he evolves well, he can really help us and, I hope, have a great future. I consider him a very important part of our team,” said Borussia Dortmund manager Marco Rose in December 2021.
”I would be very happy if he decides to stay at Borussia Dortmund. We must not forget: he is only 22 years old and he is an excellent central defender with very good qualities.
“He is physically strong, has a lot of speed, has a good left foot.”