The Portuguese young gun is a left footed centre back in the mould of, turn away now United fans, John Stones for Manchester City. Inacio is a dynamic ball playing centre back possessing strong anticipation, positioning and composure as well as ball control and dribbling ability, able to shift the ball between his feet to find space making him a nightmare for opposition to press. A highly desirable trait in the modern game where pressing is such a common tactic amongst Europe’s elite clubs.
Inacio is also a progressive defender with data from Opta listing him 1st for passes and carries into the final third in both the 2022-23 season and currently, at the time of writing, the 2023-24 season. An adjustment may need to be factored as to how he acclimatises for the more physical requirements for England’s top flight but the foundations are there.
Yes, Ten Hag favours a right footed centre back to play on the right but such is the footwork and comfortability with the ball at his feet that an argument can be made for him to play on the right. Inacio has also been deployed at right centre back for Sporting Lisbon so does have some credit when being considered as an option on the right side.
United may also consider Inacio for the fact that they really have one option on the left side as well in Martinez and it has been well documented this season already how disruptive to the defensive system his absence has been. Inacio almost represents a two for one option in this case as a defensive partner and also a back up to Martinez.
However, such talent comes strong demand with reports that fierce rivals Liverpool are prepared to swoop for the Sporting Lisbon centre back in January. Given his age and talent, United should not expect a bargain price either which might represent the first test for the incoming Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his team with how they might approach this transfer.