Man Utd got an eyeful after a very gettable Cristiano Ronaldo replacement in January shone at the World Cup, though there are ramifications on their Kylian Mbappe pursuit if he’s signed.
With Cristiano Ronaldo officially now a free agent, attention at Old Trafford has turned to who’ll fill the void. Manager Erik ten Hag was reportedly prepared to go without a direct replacement so long as it meant ridding himself of his Ronaldo problem.
However, the Red Devils will not let that happen and have brought forward their plans to sign a striker in the summer to January.
Fabrizio Romano recently backed up that claim, and varying targets have already been linked.
Kylian Mbappe is the most eye-catching, with the Mirror reporting United will explore a £150m deal in January.
Victor Osimhen is in the frame, though Romano was insistent Napoli won’t sell a single player until the summer at the earliest. The Naples club currently lead Serie A by eight points and are pushing for their first domestic title since the Diego Maradona days in 1990.
Cody Gakpo, Marcus Thuram and Joao Felix have also been cited as potential Ronaldo successors. Today’s update centres around the latter, though it also involves Mbappe.
Felix, 23, outshone Ronaldo in Portugal’s narrow 3-2 win over Ghana in Qatar on Thursday.
Ronaldo did notch from the spot and became the first player ever to score in five different World Cups. However, it was Felix who converted the harder chance when racing away down the right and cleverly chipping the goalkeeper.
Felix plies his trade at club level for Atletico Madrid, though may not do so for much longer.
Joao Felix willing and available in January
His relationship with manager Diego Simeone has crumbled and Spanish outlet AS are among many in Spain to report Felix wants out as soon as possible.
Felix was on United’s radar back in 2019 when he moved between Benfica and Atletico for £113m. He wouldn’t cost such a lofty sum now, though Atletico will strive to get the best deal they can nonetheless.
A six-month loan deal has been floated in Spain, though Atletico may be forced into a permanent sale given their dire financial straits. Their inability to qualify for the UCL knockout stages has hit hard in their pockets.
Now, CBS Sports‘ Ben Jacobs reports both Man Utd and PSG are ‘watching Felix closely’. If they did have scouts in attendance in Qatar, they’ll certainly have liked what they saw.
Mbappe ramifications laid bare
French publication Le10Sport recently claimed PSG are sizing up Felix in January as a potential long-term successor to Mbappe. That particular outlet claimed Felix is PSG’s ‘priority’ target in January.
Mbappe can break from his contract in Paris after the 2023-24 season, something that is no doubt fuelling the speculation of a move to United at an earlier date. Losing a player of Mbappe’s value for nothing is unthinkable, even for a club with the riches of PSG.
As such, if United were to move for Felix and deprive PSG of their ideal Mbappe replacement, it stands to reason any move for the French megastar would not succeed.
It appears to be a case of one or the other for United, and Felix is the infinitely more gettable target. However, signing him in January – either on loan or outright – would almost certainly end any slim chances of landing Mbappe.