A Manchester United deal for Antonio Silva could hinge on the departure of several key players over the next year, TEAMtalk can confirm.
United are desperate to reinforce their back line in 2024 as they seek to find a solution to defensive problems that continue to haunt them.
But Silva’s arrival could be dependant on who departs – and there is also a feeling that United might end up needing more than one new centre-half over the course of next year.
Andre Onana is taking flak for their Galatasaray mess but members of staff at Old Trafford know the deeper problem is more of a team issue than just individual errors.
It is with this in mind they are plotting for the future and Silva is one of the prime targets along with Jean-Clair Todibo and Goncalo Inacio. We also revealed last week that Jarrad Branthwaite is their most intriguing target from within the Premier League.
There are concerns over whether any of the four defenders are truly attainable in the January window, as Ineos look to finally close out on completing the purchase of their 25% stake in the club.
Silva’s most pressing issue is the cost of a transfer. He has an £86.7million release clause at Portuguese side Benfica and it is believed that the departure of at least one high-profile centre back will be necessary before United could make such an investment.
But their desire to sign the player comes from a view that United must start seeking to sign talent that will fit an over-arching vision for the team, rather than just players a particular manager wants to sign.
Man Utd could be forced into more centre-back signings
What complicates the matter more though is that with doubts over the long-term security of Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans – of which two are likely to leave – it will probably be the case that United end up needing two centre halves over the course of the next two transfer windows. So the financing around that will come into focus.
This week there have been reports that Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants United to focus on homegrown players over foreign signings to form the core of their future team build.
The interest in 21-year-old Branthwaite is part of that line of thinking but when it comes to defenders for an immediate uplift they are further down the line with players from abroad.
Todibo remains a complicated one, given Ratcliffe already owns the player at his French club Nice, and Tottenham are now exploring that one too.
Inacio’s qualities pushed him into the priority bracket as there is no doubt among United’s scouting team about the improved traits he would bring to them.