Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd humbled as €60m midfielder bid laughed off, but Ratcliffe could return with huge new offer

Man Utd co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Benfica midfielder Joao Neves

Man Utd have seen a £51m midfielder bid immediately rejected

Manchester United have seen an opening bid for a perfect Kobbie Mainoo partner ‘immediately rejected’, though offering a raised sum below the star’s gigantic release clause may yet unlock a deal, according to reports.

At the behest of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Man Utd are aiming to take a more measured and thoughtful approach to new signings.

Gone are the days of the Red Devils making ‘Hollywood’ additions of ageing stars coming to the ends of their careers. Instead, Man Utd aim to sign stars in their early twenties who’ll not only spend their prime years at the club, but also possess re-sale value.

Casemiro is up for sale and bids are expected to thunder in from Saudi Arabia. Elsewhere in the engine room, Man Utd aren’t inclined to activate Sofyan Amrabat’s £21.4m option to buy, much to the player’s dismay.

As such, a readymade midfielder who can form a tantalising tandem with Kobbie Mainoo is wanted.

According to the Portuguese press, Man Utd have identified Benfica’s Joao Neves as the perfect player for that role.

In fact, it’s even stated the Red Devils have quickly acted on their interest by launching a sizeable €60m/£51m bid.

However, the 19-year-old – who’s already racked up six senior caps for Portugal – is widely regarded as one of the finest Portuguese talents to emerge in recent times.

As you might expect, Benfica value the player far higher than Man Utd’s bid and Benfica president Rui Costa is said to have ‘immediately’ rejected United’s offer.

Exact sum that can bring Joao Neves to Man Utd revealed

Benfica are protected by a giant €120m/£102m release clause in Neves’ contract which still has four years left to run.

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Benfica are letting it be known any buying club must pay the full release fee if they’re to sign Neves this summer.

“Benfica stance on Joao Neves is very clear: €120m release clause or no plans to negotiate for his exit this summer,” Romano reported on Tuesday.

“Man Utd, Arsenal and Man City scouts have been monitoring Joao for months, Benfica hope to keep him at the club.”

READ MORE: Man Utd transfers: FIVE top targets with release clauses that won’t break the bank

But according to the Portuguese press, Benfica’s public stance over sticking to the release clause may be simple posturing.

It’s claimed a bid of €100m/£85m may well be good enough to bring Benfica and Rui Costa to the negotiating table.

A bid of that size would represent a giant leap of £34m when compared to Man Utd’s opening bid. Whether the Red Devils would be prepared to sink such a huge sum into one player remains unclear for now.

In the event Man Utd and Ratcliffe decide to look elsewhere, the door will swing open for one of Neves’ countless other suitors to swoop.

As Romano mentioned, Arsenal and Man City have also been monitoring the young star. Other clubs known to be on Neves’ trail include Chelsea, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and PSG.

Neves is known for his composure under pressure, his ability to find a way out of tight spaces and technical prowess.

Alongside Mainoo, the duo could be the bedrock of Man Utd’s midfield for the next decade at least, though whether he winds up at Old Trafford depends entirely on United upping their bid.

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