Manchester United are hot on the heels of German wonderkid Florian Wirtz, and their pursuit has sparked a direct response from Bayer Leverkusen chief Rudi Voller.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick will seek to stamp his authroity on the Red Devils next month. Revamping his much-maligned midfield is a noted top priority with a series of defensive-minded options touted.
Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, Amadou Haidara and Ruben Neves have all been namechecked by varying outlets. However, the forward-thinking Florian Wirtz at Leverkusen would be an altogether different option.
The Daily Star recently reported Rangnick’s arrival had given United the edge in the race for the 18-year-old.
Wirtz – who has been dubbed the next Kai Havertz – is already blazing a trail in the Bundesliga.
He has bagged five goals and eight assists so far this term. He also has three goals and three assists to his name in the Europa League. Those types of figures have rarely been seen from such a young midfielder in Germany.
The Star indicated Florian Wirtz would set United back around £70m. However, a fresh report from the Manchester Evening News suggests a deal could be done for closer to £60m.
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The outlet also carry quotes from Leverkusen chief, Rudi Voller.
United’s interest in Leverkusen’s most prized asset has clearly filtered through to Voller after the legendary ex-striker spoke at length on the murmurings.
Voller stressed Leverkusen will do everything they can to retain the services of Wirtz. However, he hinted selling the midfield ace could be inevitable sooner than he might’ve hoped.
“Maybe that day will come” – Voller
Voller told German newspaper Bild (via the MEN): “Not only because of the contractual situation – also because of the trust we have built in him and his family, we know that he will be in good hands here for a few more years.
“At some point, maybe that day will come and this club will be too small for Florian, similar to Kai.
“But that will still take a while. [My] wish is that Florian will stay with us for a few more years.
“That is important for us and for the whole of the Bundesliga and I think it’s his plan too.”
Rangnick to battle Tuchel for Wolves ace
Meanwhile, Rangnick could battle Thomas Tuchel off the pitch next month after a report detailed Manchester United and Chelsea’s interest in Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves.
A report from Spain last week stated Tuchel had ‘demanded’ Chelsea sign Ruben Neves. The 24-year-old Portuguese international could be available for around €45m.
However, a fresh report from the Mirror (citing the Spanish press), has put Manchester United in the frame.
They too are seeking midfield reinforcements. Interim boss Rangnick identified the position as the first area United should improve during his initial interview for the role.
And per the Mirror, a more realistic option than the likes of Kalvin Phillips or Jude Bellingham is Neves.
That’s because Wolves are reportedly still struggling financially due to the Covid pandemic. A number of their more high profile stars could be available for transfer, including Neves.
Man Utd are deemed one club in the mix to capitalise in Wolves’ predicament. However, Chelsea, along with Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are also attentive to Wolves’ plight.