The press is divided as to whether Manchester United are putting in a late bid for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes or not.
The 22-year-old was believed to be on the verge of signing for Arsenal when reports started circulating yesterday that United were making a move.
One report came from renowned Italian transfer specialist Gianluca Di Marzio, a source that made everyone sit up and listen.
‘The Brazilian has been in the sights of Napoli for several months, who have asked the player for time, waiting to understand the margins of the possible sale of Koulibaly to Manchester City,’ Di Marzio said on his website.
‘At the moment, Arsenal seem to be ahead with an offer of €26 million plus 4 bonuses (£23.5m + £3.6m), the same one presented by Napoli.
‘But today Manchester United have also moved on Gabriel who, however, is asking for a few days.
‘A real auction, but with tight deadlines: Gabriel, in fact, would like to decide within 48 hours. Over the weekend, therefore, there may be further developments.
The Telegraph corroborated Di Marzio’s story last night, claiming that ‘Magalhaes has delayed making a final decision on his future and expects Manchester United to make a late bid to land him in a £22.6 million deal.’
Sky Sports also weighed in, saying ‘Manchester United have held discussions with Gabriel’s representatives, in a late twist to his expected exit from Lille.’
Meanwhile The Times went one step further in the Arsenal direction than Di Marzio, claiming that the Brazilian has completed a medical at the Emirates. They also confirmed that ‘Gérard López, the Lille president, said a decision [between Arsenal and Napoli] is expected by the weekend.’
But there is no mention of United.
Likewise The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell also moved to dismiss reports linking Magalhaes with the Red Devils, saying ‘Doubt he’s one for United. Reading between lines seems an attempt to hurry up Arsenal and Napoli.’
— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) August 20, 2020
In fact, as reported here in July, Magalhaes would seem to have very busy agents who have linked him to just about every top European club in recent weeks, with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Everton and Juventus also included.
So it is more than likely that Whitwell is right and that United’s name is being used at the last minute to put pressure on Arsenal and Napoli to close the deal.
If Arsenal do win the race, the transfer could have a knock-on effect on Napoli’s willingness to sell Kalidou Koulibaly.
Magalhaes was earmarked as Koulibaly’s replacement at the San Paolo and while Manchester City are believed to be favourites to sign the Senegalese international, United have been reported by a number of sources to be in for him as well.
The fact is that United have been linked with a number of centre-back targets this summer but the list would appear to be dwindling. Nathan Aké has already gone to City and Mohammed Salisu to Southampton. If, as expected, Koulibaly also goes to City, Ben White goes to Leeds and Magalhaes goes to either Arsenal or Napoli, only Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Tyrone Mings and Joe Rodon will remain as reported United targets, with Upamecano the player most widely linked.
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