Manchester United could really do with a centre-back and are keen on a Chelsea outcast. They could also do with a goalkeeper stopgap, but may instead sign an Andre Onana replacement…
A back four of Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof against Manchester City suggests Erik ten Hag probably needs some defensive reinforcements, and reports claim the Manchester United boss is looking to strengthen his options in January.
Lisandro Martinez should be back before the end of the year, but was no great shakes before his surgery, and Raphael Varane has suffered a similar dip in form this season. Combined with Ten Hag’s clear distrust of Maguire, a centre-back is high on the club’s wishlist.
TEAMtalk claim the Red Devils, along with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, see Chelsea star Trevoh Chalobah as a possible solution.
The report claims the 24-year-old – who broke into the first team under Thomas Tuchel – wants to stay at Chelsea but is being forced out in January as ‘he is not in the long-term thinking of manager Mauricio Pochettino’. They want £45m for him.
Tuchel, now the Bayern boss, is keen on reuniting with Chalobah, while Tottenham are also thought to be in the running. But they face competition from United, who ‘are also monitoring Chalobah’s situation closely and are considering a move to try and keep him in England’.
It would reportedly be Chalobah’s preference to remain in the Premier League.
ONANA STOPGAP OR REPLACEMENT?
It’s not clear what pushed United to sign Andre Onana over their other goalkeeper targets over the summer. Reports suggest Erik ten Hag was a big admirer of his character having worked with him at Ajax. But we wonder whether a factor in their decision was his lack of international commitments.
Onana quit international football following last year’s World Cup after a disagreement with head coach Rigobert Song led to the United goalkeeper being sent home from Qatar, but returned for the final Afcon qualifier against Burundi in September following pressure from the government and the Cameroonian FA.
It was thought Onana’s struggles at United this season had persuaded him to stay with the club in January rather than represent his country at AFCON, but it’s now claimed the 27-year-old has changed his mind.
He could therefore miss seven domestic games that United would have assumed he would be around for, leaving the Red Devils in quite the pickle.
United have Altay Bayindir, signed from Fenerbahce in the summer, and Tom Heaton as backup options, but it’s thought they will look to bring in another new goalkeeper in January.
A short-term option would make sense, but Portuguese outlet A Bola claim the Red Devils are again looking at Porto’s Diogo Costa, who was one of the alternatives to Onana on their shortlist in the summer.
Interest in the 24-year-old would suggest this isn’t so much about an AFCON stopgap but a replacement for Onana, who has failed to live up to expectations thus far.
Indeed, United scouts have been watching Costa, who ‘returns to the radar’ because of Onana’s poor form. ‘This scenario is enough for the door of hiring a new goalkeeper to be wide open in the middle of this season,’ the report states.
KEEP KEEPER KEPA
While we’re on goalkeepers, Real Madrid want to make their loan of Kepa Arrizabalaga permanent according to The Sun.
The Spaniard moved to the Bernabeu in the summer as a replacement for the injured Thibaut Courtois and has kept five clean sheets in 12 games for Los Blancos, who have lost just once with the 29-year-old in goal.
Kepa wants to make the move permanent and Chelsea would love to cash in. Madrid are willing to pay £17.5m, which likely wouldn’t be enough, but are willing to send Andriy Lunin – now their third-choice goalkeeper – to Stamford Bridge to sweeten the deal.
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