The final day of the Premier League season may still be prominent in the rearview mirror, but at Manchester United some significant moves are already underway in the summer transfer market. United, of course, had completed the £25-million signing of Dutch starlet Memphis Depay even before their fourth position was confirmed on Sunday.
There is plenty of evidence that there will be much more activity to come.
One Manchester United target is already attempting to pave the way for a summer transfer to Old Trafford. It has long been obvious that a center-back would be a priority signing for manager Louis van Gaal. With Mats Hummels now seemingly set to stay at Borussia Dortmund, the focus appears to have shifted to Valencia’s Nicolás Otamendi. The Argentina international has been a resilient presence at the back as Valencia finished fourth in La Liga, but almost as soon as their season came to an end his agent firmly stated that the player’s intention was to seek a move this summer. Manchester United are widely thought to be his intended destination, but Valencia have made it clear he will not be able to depart easily.
“Valencia does not bow to pressure from any agent or any comments,” president Amadeo Salvo said via the club’s Twitter account. “The position of Valencia will always be the same: if Otamendi wants to leave, he will have to say it publicly. If he wants to go he will have to come to the club and pay what the club decide he is worth, which is 50 million euros (£35.4 million), minimum, and with the payment conditions decided by Valencia.
“Otamendi is a player for Valencia, and we have not received any offer. We are very pleased with the player and would like him to finish his contract with us.”
Given Otamendi is 27 years old, it is difficult to imagine Manchester United meeting Valencia’s valuation, which means it could take significant pressure from the player to force through a move.
Staying in Spain, there continue to be prominent links between United and Real Madrid ahead of the opening of the transfer window. On Monday, it was confirmed that the Spanish giants would not be taking up their option to sign Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and the Mexico striker would be returning to Old Trafford, at least for the time being. But, with United similarly opting against signing Radamel Falcao on a permanent deal, there is at least one striker berth to fill.
It has now been suggested that they are keen to bring in the man who kept Hernández out of the team for much of his time at Real Madrid: Karim Benzema. The Guardian has reported that Manchester United are keeping a keen eye on the France striker, with a view to a £40 million transfer. Benzema has been a key player at the Bernabeu, although the recent dismissal of manager Carlo Ancelotti and predicted appointment of Rafa Benitez shows that nothing can be taken for granted at Real Madrid. Yet, it would surely be wrong to suggest that Ancelotti’s dismissal greatly impacts the future of Benzema, given the minimal role any Real Madrid coach has in transfer decisions under president Florentino Perez.
That is also likely to prove the case with Cristiano Ronaldo. Spanish sports daily Marca is among the publications to report on fresh interest from Paris Saint-German for the current world player of the year. Manchester United, of course, have long been linked with a keen interest in bringing him back to Old Trafford, although Marca claim that Qatari-funded PSG would be the only suitors that could cough up the 300 million euros (£212 million) total package they believe it would take to secure his services. Yet, while it is stated that Ronaldo will seek assurances about Real Madrid’s future direction, it remains difficult to imagine the 30-year-old moving for the time being.
Meanwhile, rumors have continued about David de Gea’s potential transfer to Real Madrid. Ahead of the scoreless result with Hull City, Van Gaal used a more optimistic tone that the Spanish goalkeeper could remain at Old Trafford. However, Marca has reported that the player’s agent has already agreed to terms with Madrid. The campaign in the Spanish capital to get De Gea to the club appears to be in full swing, with Marca also containing a fan survey that showed the former Atlético Madrid keeper is Real’s preferred transfer target this summer.