Manchester United are prioritising the recruitment of a central midfielder as their fourth summer signing amid uncertainty over Paul Pogba’s future, as the Frenchman continues to be heavily linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Tom Heaton and Jadon Sancho have already been unveiled as United players, while Raphael Varane has agreed personal terms ahead of his expected move to Old Trafford.
United want Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid but the MEN understands a new midfielder has jumped ahead of a new right-back in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s list of priorities, with Declan Rice and Eduardo Camavinga among United’s targets. Leon Goretzka and Saul Niguez have also been mooted as options.
Here, we look at how likely each of those four deals is to happen…
In Goretzka United would be signing a world-class midfielder who has won everything there is to win at Bayern Munich, and his contract situation in Bavaria has led to speculation United could move for him.
However, as has been the case on more than one occasion in recent years, United sources believe Goretzka’s camp are using the Reds’ reputed interest as a tool to hurry along contract talks with Bayern.
Goretzka is into the final year of his current deal with the German champions and likely eyeing improved terms to extend his stay at the Allianz Arena.
Camavinga would command the lowest fee of the four players, but in signing the 18-year-old United would be investing in potential rather than proven quality.
Camavinga became France’s youngest goalscorer in over a century in a win over Ukraine last October, and has been tipped by many to be Paul Pogba’s long-term successor – that could be the case at club level as well as on the international stage if United complete a deal for the teenager.
His contract at Rennes expires next year and he is understood to be available for less than £30million. However, a deal appears unlikely after it emerged last week he would prefer a move to Spain over the Premier League.
United’s ideal holding-midfield target, Rice is another who looks all but unattainable this summer, with West Ham valuing him at more than £100million.
The London Stadium will host European football next season but that shouldn’t be enough to dissuade Rice from wanting to progress his career.
The MEN revealed earlier this year that Rice had spoken to United players Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about life at United and he would fill a void in United’s midfield for the best part of a decade, but United have already spent £73million on Jadon Sancho and are on the verge of wrapping up a £50million deal for Raphael Varane.
An outlay well in excess of £200million from United this summer seems unlikely, especially given United are yet to sanction any significant player sales.
Saul was mentioned as a possible United target as far back as David Moyes’ reign and is perhaps the most attainable player on this list, given Atletico’s financial struggles and the fact he lost his place in Diego Simeone’s team to Marcos Llorente last season.
He can play as a holding midfielder but mostly operates as a central midfielder, and he would be available for a fraction of the £130million buyout clause Atleti inserted into the nine-year contract he signed there in 2017.
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