David Moyes will inherit a squad of champions when he officially takes charge at Manchester United on 1 July.
Here, having already assessed the various goalkeepers and full-backs at his disposal, we study the selection of centre-halves all vying for first team selection this coming season. You can also read each player’s extensive profile by clicking on their name...
Nemanja Vidic: A fearless leader of men with an appetite for graft, the Serbian powerhouse is everything a club captain should be. Although injuries hampered part of his last campaign, his form towards the climax was outstanding and his future looks more than healthy.
Rio Ferdinand: Mature, experienced and classy, the veteran has just enjoyed a masterful year in Red, exporting his unique brand of intelligent, thoughtful defending to the masses. Having just signed a new one-year contract, he looks set for yet another fine season at Old Trafford.
Jonny Evans: Arguably the most-improved player of 2012/13, the recently-married Irishman has grown into a fully fledged first team star in M16 and looks set to challenge Vida and Rio for starting supremacy next season. Not content with defending, he’s even added goals to his game.
Phil Jones: Sir Alex Ferguson believes he could be “one of United’s greatest ever players”, which is high praise indeed considering the luminaries that have preceded him. Of course, his value has already been noted since joining the club, in various positions, and his potential is immeasurable.
Chris Smalling: Widely regarded as the heir to Ferdinand’s throne, the former Maidstone and Fulham man is one of England’s most exciting prospects. Mixing composure and control, his defensive style would complement those adopted by Messrs Vidic, Evans and Jones.
Michael Keane: Following a handful of first team cameos last season, the hugely talented youngster enjoyed a successful loan spell with Championship club Leicester City – earning a nomination for their Player of the Year award. His development will be fascinating this coming season.