Scout Report – Alex Grimaldo
The summer is not long gone and despite a hefty transfer spending back then, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has already identified new resources for the upcoming January transfer window. If reports from several outlets are believed to be true, the Portuguese tactician is planning to raid Benfica once more following the summer signing of Victor Lindelof, and has set his sights on their young left-back Alex Grimaldo now who had a promising 2016-17 campaign that has eventually earned him a regular status this season.
The 22-year-old Spaniard has represented his country in several youth ranks and being an Academy graduate of the prestigious La Masia, Grimaldo featured regularly for Barcelona B prior to his move to Portuguese heavyweights Benfica back in December 2015.
He was one of the rising stars for the Catalans but a serious knee injury halted his growth as the youngster was forced to remain sidelined for almost a year. He, however, recovered gradually and is now making his presence known both in Europe as well as the domestic competitions. The former Barcelona defender made 21 senior appearances altogether last season and became an integral part of Benfica’s 2016-17 Primeira Liga winning campaign.
Despite his limited opportunities, the Spaniard has impressed boss Rui Vitoria who has now handed him a regular starts in the league as well as in the prestigious UEFA Champions League competition. There, he encountered Manchester United last week and in spite of suffering a 0-1 defeat, his performance caught the attention of many. Grimaldo was previously scouted by United, but they now have reportedly received a ‘green signal’ from Jose Mourinho, who is keen to strengthen the left full-back spot.
Mourinho is losing his patience with Luke Shaw’s never-ending injury troubles, whereas both Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind have failed to convince him fully. The ex-Chelsea gaffer has opted to switch wingman Ashley Young to a makeshift left-back role and is now determined to sort this out by bringing an apt reinforcement.
Grimaldo is only 5ft 7 and that has often troubled him aerially. Other than that, he has shown all-around traits to become one of the future stars of European football. He has strong passing skills, holds great set-piece taking ability, and also loves to contribute in attack with overlapping runs, banking on strong dribbling skills.
He has scored and assisted a few goals as well and his attacking attributes allowed the Benfica boss to explore Grimaldo in a wingback slot. The Valencia-born starlet is also aware of his defensive responsibilities and has everything one needs to become a top-notch performer.
Benfica, however, are believed to demand a fee of around €40m (£36m) for the Spaniard who has a long-term contract with the Portuguese champions running until June 2021. Money is not a major concern for the Red Devils though and a deal might take place anytime soon as Mourinho attempts to find a solution to their left-back conundrum.