Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd boost as Chelsea turn away from deadly attacker after securing alternative big-money signing

Erik ten Hag Man Utd manager

Manchester United have been handed a boost amid claims Chelsea will stop pursuing a top forward after agreeing to sign Christopher Nkunku.

Back in September, it emerged RB Leipzig’s Nkunku had undertaken a secret Chelsea medical in Frankfurt the month before. This was the first step in Chelsea’s plan to sign the attacker first, ahead of other major clubs such as Man Utd or Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool soon found out about the crafty Chelsea ploy and mobilised to try and capture Nkunku first. However, they were unsuccessful. On November 9, German outlet Sport Bild revealed the Blues had won the race for the Leipzig man.

They claimed his transfer to Stamford Bridge was all sorted and just waiting to be announced.

Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has now given the move his full ‘Here We Go’ seal of approval. On Saturday, Romano tweeted: ‘Christopher Nkunku deal, signed and sealed — here we go now confirmed. All documents and contracts are also signed, it’s 100% closed.

‘French striker can be considered new Chelses player, starting from July 2023. It’s all signed/sealed with RB Leipzig and player side.’

It is understood Chelsea have agreed to pay £53million for Nkunku. The Frenchman will arrive in west London to compete with the likes of Kai Havertz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a starting spot in attack.

Graham Potter’s side have been heavily linked with AC Milan winger Rafael Leao. He was on Potter’s shortlist to improve the Chelsea forward ranks.

Chelsea move on from Portuguese star

But it looks like the Blues will move away from Leao now they have secured Nkunku’s move. According to Sport Witness, who cite reports coming out of Italy, Chelsea will find it ‘difficult’ to match Leao’s hefty price tag once they part with £53m for Nkunku. Milan supposedly value the Portugal international at £87m.

The fact Chelsea have opted to ‘turn decisively’ towards Nkunku is an ‘important sign’ they will no longer chase Leao.

This is a serious boost for Premier League rivals Man Utd. That’s because Erik ten Hag’s team view Leao as a Plan B to improve their attack.

Their priority is to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV in January. He would move to Old Trafford to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now a free agent.

Rafael Leao on Man Utd wish list

But if Man Utd somehow miss out on Gakpo, then Leao is their alternative target. So the fact Chelsea will no longer pursue the Serie A star is a big bonus for the Red Devils.

Gakpo and Leao are similar in terms of their positioning. They both tend to operate as left wingers at club level but seemingly have the potential to emerge into top centre-forwards.

Gakpo plays in an easier league than Leao currently. But the Dutch star is in better form this season.

While Leao has managed seven goals in 20 Milan appearances, Gakpo is on 13 goals from 24 PSV matches.

Whichever attacker Man Utd end up signing, they will be getting a great player added to their ranks. Both Leao and Gakpo have the ability to shine in England.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will benefit from being able to use last season’s Bundesliga Player of the Year Nkunku once his transfer reaches completion.

Elsewhere, a former Man Utd player broke down in tears when discussing his ‘painful’ exit from the club.