Manchester United acted quicker than any of their rivals in wrapping up the first big signing of the summer with Memphis Depay. But with pre-season training now underway, the club still has much of its transfer business to do. Aiming to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title next season, it has long been anticipated that it will be another hectic summer of squad reshaping for Louis van Gaal. Yet, with just four pre-season fixtures and a vital Champions League playoff coming before the end of August, the need to get signings in quickly is also obvious.
And it appears they are on the verge of making further progress toward that goal. Personal terms over a four-year contract have been agreed with Torino defender Matteo Darmian, according to Sky Sports. The news comes a day after reports in Italy claimed that a £12.7 million fee had been finalized between the two clubs. Although the transfer has yet to be finalized, Darmian has confirmed in an open letter to Torino supporters that he expects to be on the move.
“The days has come, after three fantastic years, to leave Turin,” his note began.
Darmian has proven his quality and versatility with Torino, playing at right wing-back and left wing-back last season. He has also excelled for Italy, particularly impressing against England in last year’s World Cup and in a friendly earlier this year. It is highly likely that van Gaal has earmarked the 25-year-old for the right-back role, which proved problematic to fill last season. Winger Antonio Valencia spent much of the season in the position, with Rafael da Silva injured and out of favor and now reportedly on his way out of Old Trafford.
Manchester United also hope to have another new arrival sealed before heading off to the United States next Monday for their pre-season tour, reports The Guardian. Aiming to satisfy Van Gaal’s publicly stated desire for a holding midfielder, Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin is said to be the player United are closing in on.
Schneiderlin has been one of the very best in his position in the Premier League for the past two seasons and has made known his desire to join a club that can offer a place in the Champions League. Southampton manager Ronald Koeman confirmed earlier this week that United had rejected a bid from United, believed to be for £20 million, although he strongly suggested that he expected the France international to leave if an increased bid arrives. The Guardian suggests a compromise could be reached at £25 million.
If those two deals do get wrapped up, the focus could well turn to strengthening the center of defense. While a recently launched bid for Sergio Ramos has been seen in part as a negotiating tactic in the battle to keep Real Madrid away from David de Gea, the desire for a top-quality center-back has long been apparent.
Being able to attain one, though, is proving a tough task, and the saga over the potential transfer of Ramos and De Gea could go on for some time yet. However, Real Madrid would appear to be open to the possibility of losing Ramos, who has asked to leave the club. Madrid-based sports daily AS has reported that the Spanish giants are already seeking out possible replacements for Ramos, with one of them also on Manchester United’s radar.
Long linked with a transfer to Old Trafford, Nicolas Otamendi is wanted by Van Gaal to partner Ramos at the heart of the United defense next season, suggests AS. Argentina international Otamendi had a superb season with Valencia last term and has made known his desire to leave the club this summer. However Valencia have repeatedly stated that his wish will not be fulfilled unless his 50 million euros (£36 million) valuation is met.