Football transfer rumours: Manchester United set sights on Willian again?

Simon Burnton on 15 March 2018

José Mourinho has got a cunning plan to turn Manchester United into a European force once more, a method that will surely transform this underperforming outfit into the powerhouse they are used to being and deserve to be. It’s to spend a whole load of cash on some new players. If only United had thought of that a few years ago!

“He believes the Old Trafford giants have been too frugal in their outlay,” writes the Mirror but, after spanking very nearly £300m only to have a team that is leaving the world of football with socks very much not blown off, “United are understood to be unwilling to hand him the vast sums he wants”. Among the players he is most keen to snap up, reports the Sun, is Chelsea’s Willian, who he tried but failed to sign last summer and might cost as much as £60m even though he turns 30 a few days before next season gets under way. Plus there’s Anderson Talisca, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder currently on loan from Benfica to Besiktas. Mourinho is again said to be a big fan, and a £35m deal is in the offing.

The Independent thinks that Mourinho wants to add “four key players” to his squad in the summer, and will sanction the departure of seven current first-teamers to part-fund his recruitment drive. Among those four, Mourinho wants a top-class centre-half, “with Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti and Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld the main targets”, and “a controlling midfielder” – Paris St-Germain’s Marco Verratti, possibly in some kind of Paul Pogba-based swap arrangement, and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, possibly in some kind of David de Gea-based swap arrangement, have been discussed. In total contrast to the Mirror’s suggestion that Mourinho’s transfer planning lacks the backing of the boardroom, the Independent insists that Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, “is fully behind” it. And if some kind of manager-suit disagreement does transpire, “PSG will do all they can to exploit it in their attempts to land him”, writes the Mirror.

Emre Can’s much-mooted move to Juventus might not happen after all – when the Bianconeri’s chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said earlier this week that “there are other contenders and we await a response”, the rival bidders he was referring to were Bayern Munich. Meanwhile Kwadwo Asamoah’s contract at Juventus is also up in the summer, and Chelsea have set their sights on the 29-year-old left-sided type. Plus Andrés Iniesta might go to China. “Before 30 April I have to make the decision whether I’m still in Barcelona or I’m going,” he said. And Arsenal have had “conversations” about the 20-year-old midfield prospect Maycon, though Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli would both also like to sign him from Corinthians.

Meanwhile in Germany, Stuttgart’s sporting executive, Michael Reschke, thinks that Tottenham, Liverpool and all the other clubs currently getting excited about their 21-year-old French defender Benjamin Pavard are wasting their time. “We are the ideal club for him right now and he feels that,” Reschke warned. “If this summer a club believes they can sign him for €30m, that club is profoundly wrong. We wouldn’t even open the door.”

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