Two players have emerged at the top of Manchester United’s summer target list as the club prepare to make a splash in the transfer market, claims a report.
United “have stepped up their scouting” of Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Villarreal’s Pau Torres, according to 90min. The LaLiga pair have been elevated to the top of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wish list as he hunts for a long-term partner for Harry Maguire. Victor Lindelof has been afforded the job on the whole this season and a report on Monday suggested Solskjaer had put his hunt for a defender on a backburner due to the Swede’s form. Goal, claimed “the situation has now changed”.
However, numerous outlets remain sure Solskjaer will add a centre-back in the summer and 90min insist their priority is to sign one of Kounde or Torres this summer.
“Extensive checks are now being carried out on both players” as United look to go after one of them in the summer.
Real Madrid are also suitors of the pair and so United are drawing up a secondary list of targets. And on that list, per the source, is Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu, Braga’s David Carmo, Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile and Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji.
According to ESPN, United have had contact with Villarreal in ‘recent weeks’ to register their interest in Torres.
Spain international Torres reportedly has a €65m release clause in his contract. However, there is a chance of a cheaper deal and Villarreal have made it clear they would be open to taking Eric Bailly back as part of any deal (as per 90min).
Kounde comes with a slightly more expensive £70m release clause.
United are keen to avoid spending too much money as they remain keen to splash out on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, who could cost well over £100m.
Solskjaer could get chop if United fail in Europe
Meanwhile, Solskjaer will be axed at United if they do not win the Europa League this season, according to former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy.
Defeat by Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday left Solskjaer with just one avenue left for silverware this season.
United failed at the semi-final stage last season as they were dumped out by Sevilla in the Europa League, but Murphy says they have to go two steps better this time around.
Solskjaer’s men face Granada in their last eight tie and then a two-legged semi-final tie with Roma or Ajax, if they can dispose of the LaLiga minnows.
The bookies have United as their overwhelming favourites and Murphy thinks Man Utd “will make a change” if the Norwegian does not win Europe’s second competition.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Murphy said: “They can’t be blaming tiredness for a loss at Leicester in the FA Cup and their squad not being strong enough.
“United competing in the Europa League is not good enough, first and foremost, the fans know that, the club know that and Ole knows that.
“Not progressing in the Champions League was a massive, massive blow for them. Yes, they’re going to get in the top four… but so they damn should!
“He’s in a position for me where the Europa League, for me, has become monumental for him and the club.
“I like him and I’m not one who wants to see managers sacked and I do think they’ve made some strides forward, but Manchester United have to be doing better.
“If they don’t win the Europa League and only finish in the top four then I think they’ll make a change.”