Manager Jose Mourinho’s quick splash signing of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already netted Manchester United two Premier League victories and three goals, but the 34-year-old Swede is a player for the present, as opposed to the future. Thus, based on recent reports, the Portuguese boss is trying to build a new, youthful foundation that could last for years at Old Trafford.
And the future could be quite bright should Mourinho land highly-coveted Santos forward Gabriel Barbosa. According to Express, the Red Devils, as well as Chelsea and La Liga’s Atletico Madrid, held talks with Santos president Modesto Roma over the 19-year-old Brazilian who just helped his nation claim Olympic gold in Rio.
The report, however, also stresses that while Roma said Barbosa is free to leave Santos, the only “real” offers have come from Italy.
“The only real offers come from Juventus and Inter and now it depends on Gabriel," Roma said. "Santos don't have to accept or refuse, the clauses for a move are in his contract and the club will respect them.”
Clearly, Santos is willing to part with the talented scorer who’s totaled 24 goals in Brazil’s Serie A since joining the debuting for the squad as a 16-year-old. Mourinho’s interest was also documented by Manchester Evening News, and Barbosa is contemplating his next move.
“Up until now, I haven’t really had the time to think about anything because my attention was completely on the Olympics,” Barbosa said after beating Germany on penalties in the Rio men’s final. “Now I will celebrate with my family, then I will return to Santos and think about what I should do.”
Considering the deep-pocketed clubs sniffing around Barbosa and the transfer deadline one week away, Mourinho will have to move fast to further reinforce an attack’s already performing far better than last term’s and could be even stronger. Funds, even for a club as rich as United, and Barbosa’s price may be a factor. Following Ibrahimovic’s signing, the £25 million sent to Villarreal for Eric Bailly, and the mega-deal to land Paul Pogba from Juve, Mourinho may want to negotiate Barbosa’s almost £17 million market value down.
The Red Devils are also reportedly involved in a “standoff” as they try to land Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte, according to The Sun. However, the perceived stalemate comes between Mourinho and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who’s evidently told Mourinho he can’t bring in Fonte until more expensive players are shipped out of Old Trafford.
Mourinho has prepared a £12 million bid for Fonte, The Sun reports, but United’s been unable to move the available Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcos Rojo this summer.