Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s summer transfer agenda includes a top centre-back and a shortlist of at least four players has been drawn up, according to The Athletic.
It has long been acknowledged by most observers that the Victor Lindelof – Harry Maguire centre-back partnership is not strong enough and while debates rage about which of the two is the weaker link, it is Maguire that will ultimately keep his place in the side, having cost £80 million and having been made captain of the side.
Eric Bailly has looked impressive alongside both Lindelof and Maguire this season but his poor injury record and Solskjaer’s seeming reluctance to give him an extended run in the first team both indicate that the boss does not see him as an adequate solution.
With Axel Tuanzebe also seemingly not fancied by the manager and lingering in the reserves, it seems clear that the Norwegian will be heading back to the transfer market in June and The Athletic claims that Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate, Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic are among the names being considered.
Kounde is the player that seems to be favourite at the moment. ‘United had a scout in attendance as he played the full 90 minutes in their Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund a week ago,’ The Athletic claims.
‘The 22-year-old Frenchman is a genuine name being talked about at Old Trafford, among several.
‘Ibrahima Konate, RB Leipzig’s 21-year-old defender, is another reports are continuing to be filed on by United’s recruitment staff.
However, Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic has been proposed to United but the 23-year-old is not being actively pursued.
‘Closer to home, Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings was under consideration on a list of three centre-backs last summer before United prioritised other positions due to the financial impact of the pandemic.’
The one rated least likely of the four, Milenkovic, is likely to be the only one that is available at a reasonable price. As reported here previously, Sevilla do not wish to sell Kounde and would demand that his €80 million (£69m) release clause is met. A bid from Manchester City of €55 million was reportedly turned down last summer. Leipzig will not want to lose Konate having just sold Dayot Upamecano to Bayern Munich, and will be under no real pressure to sell having done so. And Aston Villa’s renaissance has left them in a much stronger position than before and have proven bullish recently in pricing their prize assets, such as Jack Grealish.
‘Caution over cashflow will continue in the next transfer window,’ The Athletic’s report continues.
‘United have lost more than £100 million in revenue with crowds being prohibited at Old Trafford and while there is money to spend, sources say sales would be required before more than one “marquee signing” can be brought in.’
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