After reportedly missing out on another target, Manchester United may need to consider midfield alternatives for the second time in as many summer transfer windows. At the end of the season, Erik ten Hag is anticipated to release Fred on a free transfer, but another replacement option in his sights appears to have been snatched up.
Sport reports that Barcelona and Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who had been linked to an Old Trafford move for some time, have reached an agreement. The transfer, which is reportedly less expensive than the Premier League club’s £43 million valuation, is awaiting approval from Xavi, the manager of Barcelona.
After their frustratingly unsuccessful pursuit of Frenkie de Jong in Ten Hag’s first summer in charge, United’s midfield options in the transfer market may be dwindling.
Express Sport examines four practical options that United could focus on.
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag wants a new midfielder. (Image: GETTY)
According to reports, Declan Rice will ‘definitely’ leave West Ham United this summer and will be available for around £70 million as his contract nears the end of its term. The Red Devils have long been linked to Rice and could finally make their move.
However, Ten Hag is unlikely to spend another £70 million of his budget on a midfielder just one year after spending the same amount on Casemiro. With United believed to be out of the race for Jude Bellingham, his England teammate is an equally appealing option.
In the summer, United passed up the chance to sign Enzo Fernandez in their search for a midfielder, with Benfica completing a £14 million deal instead. They are likely to rue that decision now, with the Argentine off to a blistering start in Lisbon, particularly in the Champions League.
He has also been one of Argentina’s World Cup stars thus far, and at only 21, he is regarded as one of the world’s most exciting midfield talents. United, or any other suitor, would have to spend the majority, if not the entirety, of their budget to sign him in 2023. Benfica are said to be unwilling to sell for less than his £103 million release clause.
Moises Caicedo, like Fernandez, is a midfield prospect for whom United chose not to make a concrete move and has since been made to look foolish.
The 21-year-old Ecuador international has adapted well to Premier League life and is now thought to be worth around £70 million, which appears to be the current premium for top midfielders.