Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, with their opening bid believed to be in the region of £30 million. For United to land their target, this offer will likely need to be increased to around £40 million.

However, Ramos is nowhere near worth that.

Ramos has had one the most successful careers in world soccer. He has won every trophy there is to be won with Real Madrid as well as with the Spanish national team but would he improve the Manchester United defense?

The answer is yes, if the question is whether Sergio Ramos would be better for United than Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. However, the question is not as simple as it may seem.

Last season, Manchester United were without Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Patrice Evra. Despite that, United had the fourth best defensive record in the league, conceding only 37 goals. De Gea came to United’s rescue on several occasions, but his heroics must not overshadow the possibility that the replacement for the legendary Ferdinand-Vidic partnership is inside, rather than outside, the club.

According to, among the center halves who played 15 or more games in La Liga last season, Ramos had the third highest rating (7.46). Phil Jones, with his rating of 7.51, ranked first among a peer group in the Premier League. Chris Smalling (7.34) ranked seventh. If anything, it indicates that the young pair don’t have plenty of catching up to do to reach Ramos’ individual level.

Except for a minimal-margin superiority in the ‘blocks’ row, Ramos failed to come out on top in any particular skill. Phil Jones dominated in terms of tackles attempted (3.84), tackle success percentage (51%) and clearances.

However, Jones’ superiority in interceptions and defensive errors, in particular, exposes the injustice of the accusations of stupidity and recklessness aimed at the 23-year-old. He might have earned the critique, but only for being willing to risk a head or a limb for the team. It’s ironic how in Ramos’ case it’s hailed as ‘spirit’.

It could be argued that Ramos’ most valuable attributes are character and leadership, and thus couldn’t be translated into statistics. United do need a leader in defense, but their first option should be to grow leaders, not buy them from overseas.

In Chris Smalling, who has been at the club for almost five years, United have a leader in the making. Smalling’s form was one of the most important yet least noticed factors in United’s resurgence in the second half of last season. Smalling’s role has already grown to be integral for United. In May, Louis van Gaal explained his decision to name the towering defender as captain against Arsenal, “I believe Chris Smalling has been the leader of our defense. I have watched and observed him, that is why he is captain today.”

He is 25 years old, a perfect age to start holding such responsibilities in the team. His physical presence is hard not to notice, and Van Gaal’s trust in him indicates he has the required mental strength, too.

While Ramos’ age means he has invaluable experience, it also means he is nearing the twilight of his career. Smalling and Jones are four and six years younger than the Spaniard, respectively. They can offer what Ramos can’t: longevity, which has always been, and should always remain, a key feature in United’s planning.

Sergio Ramos is a great player to have in any team, but acquiring his services is far from a “whatever-the-cost” mentality.