Manchester United are already beginning to show that they mean business this summer.
With reports already suggesting earlier on Tuesday that a deal could be close for 18-year-old Benfica midfielder Renato Sanches, it would appear that they also plan to bolster their defence with the signing of another young prodigy.
The Manchester Evening News are this afternoon reporting that Athletic Bilbao central defender Aymeric Laporte is high up on their list of targets in the summer, along with John Stones and Raphael Varane, as they seek to find a long-term partner for Chris Smalling.
Laporte is very highly regarded across Europe as an outstanding young talent. He is a player that has been on the radar of Man United, Barcelona and Arsenal, to name a few, for some time now. and although he is yet to make his senior debut for the France national team, the recent injury to Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma is likely to enhance his chances of making the squad for this summer’s European Championships.
If Manchester United do decide to pursue this deal, they will soon realise it will not be a straightforward transfer. They have endured enough transfer missteps in the past few years to understand that by now, pursuit doesn’t always guarantee success.
Laporte has a release clause believed to be in the region of €50million, and Athletic are highly unlikely to even consider offers lower than that amount. The player’s happiness at the San Mamés Stadium is also likely to hinder any prospect any hopes for a lower fee on negotiation.
The potential presence of Barcelona in the mix is also likely to cause some problems for Ed Woodward. The Catalan giants have recently been scouting the player heavily too and although Laporte was quoted as saying he would be prepared to turn down a move to the Camp Nou, he has since claimed those words were taken out of context.
A giant positive in their favour comes in the form of the player’s agent Jorge Mendes, representative of (among others) David De Gea and Radamel Falcao – his working relationship with Woodward can only help Man United’s prospects.
Any hope of pipping Barcelona to the deal though is almost certainly contingent on Louis van Gaal’s side qualifying for next year’s Champions League.