Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd open talks over game-changing £85m deal as Ratcliffe gets green light on two conditions

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is to open talks over a big-money Manchester United move for Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is to open talks over a big-money Manchester United move for Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo

Manchester United are ready to switch their central defensive targets to Ronald Araujo after TEAMtalk sources revealed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had been given a genuine belief that a deal for the Uruguayan is there to be done with Barcelona.

The Red Devils are gearing up for what is likely to be one of the most significant summers in their history, with a number of changes both behind the scenes and on the playing front mooted. To that end, the British billionaire is prepared to stop at nothing to ensure Manchester United can reclaim their place back among the elite of the English and European game.

To kick things off, the 71-year-old INEOS chief has quickly assembled a team of crack individuals known as the best football brains in the country, with Omar Berrada due to arrive as CEO from Manchester City and with the appointment of former Juventus and PSG director Jean-Claude Blanc also confirmed this week.

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Dan Ashworth is also due to arrive as sporting director – though negotiations over his release from Newcastle have proved more problematic than expected – while Jason Wilcox has already made the jump from Southampton, arriving as technical director.

There could also be a change of manager too, amid speculation Erik ten Hag could be on his way and with a well-known Dutch icon claiming the Manchester United boss already knows the axe will fall on his reign this summer.

However, it is the changes likely to be made on the players front which will most intrigue supporters, with Ratcliffe preparing to oversee a major overhaul of their first-team squad.

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To that end, reports earlier this week claim Ratcliffe is open to offers for 12 members of United’s playing squad with even Marcus Rashford potentially up for grabs if any of his suitors matched the club’s apparent £70m to £80m valuation.

However, TEAMtalk understands Rashford has made clear his desire to stay at Old Trafford and is giving no thoughts to moving away.

Furthermore, it has since been claimed that United believe no side, either at home – Manchester City and Tottenham have both been linked – or in Europe, are likely to meet their asking price.

As a result, it is fully expected that Rashford will stay.

Ratcliffe, however, is open to several other high-profile exits amid claims only three members of the first-team squad – Alejandro Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo and Rasmus Hojlund – are considered untouchable.

In terms of incomings, Ratcliffe is putting his focus into strengthening four key areas, with the spine of his side – a new centre-half, central midfielder and striker – taking priority, while bringing in a new right-winger is also seen as part of their summer transfer strategy.

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Perhaps the most noise has emerged around the capture of a new centre-half, with both Jonny Evans and Raphael Varane expected to move on this summer.

To that end, the likes of Gleison Bremer, Jarrad Branthwaite, Jean-Clair Todibo and Antonio Silva are among the centre-halves under consideration.

However, one man who has previously been mentioned as a target, but looks out of their range, is Barcelona star Araujo.

Rated in the €100m (£85.4m) bracket, the 25-year-old Uruguay international is regarded as one of European football’s most fearsome centre-halves.

Barcelona tell Man Utd that Araujo deal is on subject to two conditions

However, reports in Spain now claim that, with Barcelona needing to generate transfer funds this summer to help comply with FFP regulations, they have put their entire first-team squad up for sale, with the exception of five stars – Pau Cubarsi, Mikayil Faye, Gavi, Pedri and Lamine Yamal – who are all seen as untouchable.

And with Araujo seen as one of, if not the, most saleable asset, Sport reports that the LaLiga giants have circulated his name in an effort to generate interest.

With youngsters Cubarsi and Faye both pushing to breakthrough and seen as Barcelona‘s future central defensive partnership, the LaLiga giants feel now is the time to sell the 16-times capped Uruguay man.

And while the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich have been linked, reports claim Ratcliffe has made the first move by opening talks with the LaLiga giants over what could prove a game-changing signing.

The British billionaire has watched from afar the way Virgil van Dijk has inspired Liverpool over recent seasons and feels Araujo could prove their equivalent over the years ahead.

And while the fee is perhaps more than he initially expected to spend on a new defender, it’s a move he’s seemingly willing to sanction if the price is right.

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Sources have told TEAMtalk that there is a strong chance Araujo could depart the Nou Camp this summer and that United’s interest in indeed genuine.

Perhaps surprisingly, we’ve also been told that Newcastle cannot be ruled out the transfer race for the Uruguayan either.

Either way, Ratcliffe now intends to open talks with Barcelona over a potential deal and would,be open to his sale if the price is right.

However, as part of the negotiations, it’s claimed Barcelona would like to two conditions to be met. Firstly they want a 75% of whatever fee is agreed for the player to be paid up front – a factor United could use to try and drive his price down.

And secondly, it’s suggested the LaLiga giants want first refusal to sign Bruno Fernandes if ever United decided to let their captain move on.