Manchester United have agreed to sign Benfica’s Swedish international centre-back Victor Lindelof, pending the 22-year-old agreeing personal terms. The deal is also subject to a medical and international clearance.
The 22-year-old was thrown in at the deep end during 2015-16 after injuries to club captain Luisao and Lisandro Lopez, and responded magnificently. Benfica had to be nigh-on perfect to reel in bitter city rivals Sporting Lisbon and, after Lindelof’s introduction against Moreirense on Jan. 31, the Eagles won 14 of their remaining 15 games to clinch a titanic title race by two points.
Here are five things you should know about Lindelof.
1. He is known as “The Iceman”
From the moment Lindelof came off the bench against Moreirense, he would go on to play every single minute of Benfica’s remaining league campaign, acquitting himself like a seasoned professional. He was equally at ease in a Champions League run that only ended after a narrow quarterfinal defeat to Bayern Munich.
Lindelof’s power, speed and sense of anticipation are obvious qualities, but what stood out above all else was his unflappable composure no matter how high-profile the game or tense the match situation, doing justice to his “Iceman” nickname.
2. He almost joined Middlesbrough
Lindelof only broke into the first team at the start of 2016, but he has been a Benfica player since 2011 after signing as a 17-year-old from Vasteras SK. The player himself never expressed his displeasure at being confined to the B-team, but his agent Per Jonnson started making noise in January by saying: “Lindelof has to leave Benfica; it’s important for his career.”
A loan move to Middlesbrough was in the works, and only injuries to two of Benfica’s other centre-backs scuppered the deal. Weeks later, Lindelof was playing Champions League football against the likes of Bayern Munich when he could so easily have been playing Championship football against the likes of Brendford.
3. He exudes strength and class
Standing at 6-foot-2 and with a beefy build, Lindelof’s physical attributes and competitive attitude enable him to mix it with the toughest of forwards. However, his intelligent positioning, well-timed challenges and notable ability to read what is about to happen mean the Swede rarely has to resort to fouling his opponent to protect his goal. In a total of 73 matches for Benfica’s first team, Lindelof has picked up just six yellow cards and never been sent off.
4. His versatility is an asset
Lindelof has shone at the heart of Benfica’s defence, but he has another useful string to his bow. He excelled as Sweden’s right-back at the 2015 European Under-21 Championship. Along with solid defensive displays, he was a threat going forward and also struck the winning fifth penalty in the shootout in the final against Portugal as the Nordic country lifted the trophy.
It came as no surprise when he was named in the official team of the tournament. One year later, he was in the full national side at Euro 2016, starting all three of Sweden’s group games, playing both at centre-back and right-back in France.
5. He leaves Benfica despite a new contract
Lindelof renewed his contract with the Portuguese champions earlier this season but, despite that, is set to leave. Chelsea and Inter were also linked but it appears that Jose Mourinho has won the race for his signature, with reports suggesting United will pay £30.75 million (€35m, $39.2m) for his services.