Manchester United have expressed an interest in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, according to reports from Italy.
The Red Devils are widely reported to be in the hunt for a world class holding midfielder this summer, with West Ham’s Declan Rice reportedly top of the wish list.
But Locatelli’s two-goal MOTM performance for Italy against Switzerland in their opening Euro 2020 game captured everyone’s attention and with an asking price of £35 million, the buzzards are beginning to circle around Sassuolo’s door.
As mentioned in Shane Healy’s excellent report on the player yesterday, Juventus are in pole position to sign the 23-year-old and have made a bid.
However, Gazzetta dello Sport claim that Sassuolo are keeping their powder dry in response to the offer, hoping that Locatelli’s performances in the international tournament serve to drive the price up and start a bidding war.
‘[Locatelli’s] perfect match against Switzerland illuminated the eyes of half of Europe, while the Bianconeri have long been preparing the ground for the former AC Milan player.
‘Sassuolo .. expect €60 million [£52m] for Locatelli who, until last week, was valued at €40 million [£34m]. But will it be so? In the year of Covid, everyone is trying to bring down costs. Therefore a real tug-of-war is expected, perhaps with many episodes.
‘Juve are starting at €25 million euros [£21.5m], maybe they can even go up to €30m [£26m]. However, the latest spike in the costs of the operation, mentioned only indirectly, deserves some in-depth analysis.’
Gazzetta goes on to say that there will be face-to-face meetings next week, but imply that Sassuolo are stalling.
‘As a child Locatelli cheered Juve, his idol was Del Piero. It is clear, then, what his favourite destination is.
‘[But] it is legitimate for Sassuolo to look around. Also because the inevitable intermediaries have pointed to the interest of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal or Tottenham.
‘Sassuolo want … an auction among the best clubs on the continent. After all, Manuel’s good performances in the national team are coming at the right time, despite the economic crisis of international stature.’
Pogba’s return to Juventus, in the meantime, could depend on whether Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the Old Lady. United are rumoured to be one of the most likely destinations.
Meanwhile, Transfermarkt reported back in January that another club interested in Locatelli is Borussia Dortmund, who may use funds released from the potential sale of right winger Jadon Sancho to United to secure his signature.
Whilst Juventus must remain favourites to sign the 23-year-old, both they and United are embroiled in a mind-bendingly complicated transfer scenario this summer. This fact alone puts the Red Devils in with an excellent chance of competing for the Italian if that deal for Rice is, indeed, dead in the water.