Manchester United are in pole position to sign Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt amid the lack of progress in contract talks, Italian publication Corriere dello Sport (today’s edition, page 2) claims.
The Red Devils are keen on pursuing a central defender this summer, and they have already been linked with multiple names including Inter Milan’s Stefan de Vrij.
It is now reported that United are one of the favourites to sign De Ligt alongside Chelsea with the Netherlands international open to a move to the Premier League.
De Ligt’s current contract with Juventus expires in two years’ time. The Bianconeri have been unsuccessful in convincing him to put pen-to-paper on a new deal.
On Thursday, they met his lawyer Rafaela Pimenta to discuss a renewal, but both parties were far apart. De Ligt currently earns €8 million plus €4m in add-ons annually, and has no plans of accepting a pay-cut.
The Bianconeri have also refused to accept the request to reduce his release clause. The Dutchman wanted the €115m buy-out clause to be lowered to at least €80m.
He has now asked for a transfer with United and Chelsea prepared to ‘intervene’. It is claimed that a figure between €80-90m (£69-77m) could lead to his exit.
United are eager to sign a new central defender and there have been links with Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez, who worked under manager Erik ten Hag at Ajax last term.
De Ligt is another player who was very successful under him. He was handed the captain’s armband during the 2018/19 campaign, where Ajax’s performances stepped up to the next level.
It has already been reported that Ten Hag would fancy signing the 22-year-old this summer, but the big question is whether the club can afford to meet the transfer demands of the Bianconeri.
The club are prioritising a deal for midfielder Frenkie de Jong at the moment, but he won’t come on the cheap with Barcelona eyeing an initial fee of at least €75m for his services.
Antony has been mentioned as another target for the manager, but United face a similar hurdle in the Brazilian’s pursuit. Ajax currently value him between €70-80m, as per Mike Verweij.
With the hefty price tags for the duo, it remains to be seen whether United would enter the hunt for De Ligt, if he becomes available in the transfer market this summer.
The club need player sales to recoup additional transfer funds. With the lack of progress in that aspect, they could face the prospect of being outpaced by rivals Chelsea.
The west London club have made it a priority to bolster the defence after the free transfer exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, and could make a huge outlay on De Ligt.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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