Claudio Ranieri is hoping defender Nicolas Nkoulou can become a trusted figure on the pitch as Watford look to get a result against Manchester United this afternoon.

The centre back made his first start against Arsenal in the Hornets' last Premier League outing and impressed the head coach, who has followed the ex-Cameroon international's career for some time.

However, the Italian sees more than just a good defender in Nkoulou and is hoping that he can become a leader and an assistant among the players.

"I was impressed with him and I know him very very well," said Ranieri. "He played in Italy for a long time and also when I managed Moncao I watched him at Marseille.

"I have followed Nkoulou for a long time.

"I like for all my players to be leaders. If you are leaders, you think about all the difficulties of a manager. When something happens you are like an assistant of the manager. For me, it makes everything easier and, for me, Nkoulou is one of these players who is very very focused on the team.

"Sometimes the players are a little selfish and this is normal, but when you’re a leader, you think about your team, your teammates, everything and you want, like a manager, for everything to be right."