Manchester United made the right transfer decision on star who ‘scans compared to Nemanja Vidic’

Manchester United was not the only one left frustrated by Southampton last Sunday.

One-time reported transfer target Duje Caleta-Car came to Old Trafford for the first time as a Southampton player, but failed to feature in a sixth successive Premier League game. In an alternate reality, the Croatia international with 23 caps may have been much more familiar with Manchester by now.

Three years ago, the central defender was linked with City and United when comparisons to Nemanja Vidic followed his name. Caleta-Car also came close to signing for Liverpool a year later, before a deadline deal with French giant Marseille collapsed. But since he finally made it to the Premier League with Southampton last summer, it’s fair to say the 26-year-old hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations.

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The defender has made just 16 appearances in all competitions for the team currently bottom of the top-flight table. He was a regular under the first coach of the season, Ralph Hasenhuttl, staying that way for a time under his successor Nathan Jones, but that all changed in late January.

Prior to Southampton’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Newcastle United, the club had won three of their previous four league and cup games, including the shock quarter-final defeat of City on the south coast. Caleta-Car played every minute in each of those trios of victories and once again Jones entrusted him with the title.

The run of starts would come to an abrupt end, although, having already been booked in the first half, the defender brought down Allan Saint-Maximin four minutes from time and received a second yellow card. After serving a one-match suspension, Caleta-Car did not make the matchday squad in three of their next five matches.

A reprieve would come in the fifth round of the FA Cup and it was another game to forget as, despite scoring, the defender had earlier conceded a penalty for inexplicably hitting Grimsby Town striker Danilo Orsi-Dadomo in the back away from the The action, which turned out to be the League Two team’s decisive cup goal, surprised.


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