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Data analysis software persuaded Manchester United to pass on Jerome Boateng in 2018

Could you imagine what Man United would be like with Boateng alongside Harry Maguire? Would they still be in such a rut right now?

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FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session
Happy not to be in Manchester.
Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern

It’s no secret that Manchester United was interested in bringing Jerome Boateng to the Premier League, but a move for the towering Bayern Munich center-back never materialized. Jose Mourinho was eager to bring Boateng to Manchester, but new details have emerged as to why Man United decided against pulling the trigger.

Per a new report by The Athletic, Mourinho was advised by members of United’s coaching staff and front office not to make a move for Boateng on account of the findings of in-house data analysis technology that they had used. Specifically, the software indicated concerns over Boateng’s fitness, which showed that Boateng “tended to fade after 70 minutes,” which is when close matches are often won or lost, “not running as far, or as fast, not making as many challenges or interceptions and becoming increasingly vulnerable to quick attackers.”

While Bayern’s asking price at the time might also have been a contributing factor to the final decision, the data analysis apparently tipped the scales. Mourinho had made it clear that Boateng was near the top of his shopping list going into the summer of 2018, because United was having a lot of problems in their defense and midfield despite coming off of the EFL Cup and Europa League double in the 2016/2017 season. The Red Devils ultimately decided to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester for €87m next year.

Interestingly enough, Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix was also on United’s radar, but they were concerned he lacked the physicality to thrive in the Premier League. Hindsight is always 20/20, but Felix has gone on to show why he’s one of Europe’s most exciting and promising young talents. Not for nothing, either, but would Manchester United be faring a bit better currently if their current center-back pairing were Maguire and Boateng?

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