Manchester United have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey as the Spanish club have offered him to Liverpool on a player swap deal, reports claim.
Partey is considered one of the best holding midfielders in the world and would provide a natural successor to the aging Nemanja Matic.
His release clause of €50 million (£43 million) has attracted interest from the Red Devils, with Arsenal also reported to be in the hunt for his signature.
However, according to a report in The Sun, Atleti do not want to lose their player for the buyout fee and are instead lining up a swap deal with Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
‘The Ox made 13 league starts before football shutdown having recovered from a devastating knee injury but Liverpool are unlikely to be open to offers’ The Sun claims.
‘The ex-Arsenal man, 26, has three years left on his Anfield contract and is still considered a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.’
At first glance The Sun’s claim seems unlikely – why would the Madrid side prefer a straight swap with a player valued at £24 million rather than cash in on a £43 million release clause and pocket the change? And from Liverpool’s part, would they really be prioritising a holding midfielder when they have the excellent Fabinho?
On the other hand, Liverpool could have been lurking in the shadows of the Partey transfer dealings for some time, with rumours having emerged in February that ‘two clubs in the Premier League, that are used to paying 80 million for central defenders have made contact with Thomas Partey’s representatives’ – which can only mean United and Liverpool.
Being reported in Spain that "two clubs in the Premier League, that are used to paying 80 million for central defenders" have made contact with Thomas Partey's representatives.
Liverpool paid around 80 million for Van Dijk
Man Utd paid 80 million for Maguire https://t.co/9XFJAqEzIS
— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) February 29, 2020
What we do know about Partey is that he has not signed a contract extension with Atleti, his release clause remains at £43 million and he is eyeing a move to the Premier League. With The Athletic’s David Ornstein having claimed that United are prioritising a holding midfielder in the next transfer window, it is also safe to say that he will be under serious consideration at Old Trafford.
United might have to finish their Premier League season at neutral grounds as the authorities try to ensure player safety. How much do you know about those neither-home-nor-away games the Red Devils have played in the past? Take our quiz below to find out.