Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd ‘hold talks’ over marquee £251m double deal with Ratcliffe to offload costly Red Devils duo

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is targeting a move to bring Joao Neves to Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is targeting a move to bring Joao Neves to Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has met Jorge Mendes with Manchester United looking to bring two of the super-agent’s star clients to Old Trafford this summer, according to strong reports in Portugal.

The British billionaire is wasting no time in his attempts to steer the Red Devils back to the very top of English and European football having completed a £1.3bn investment into 27.7% of the Glazers’ Manchester United shares in February. And while Ratcliffe has very quickly moved to assemble the strongest team possible behind the scenes, with a number of key appointments, it is their impending work on the transfer market which will most intrigue supporters.

To that end, big changes are expected on the playing front as a number of players reach the end of their natural cycles at Old Trafford and others are moved on, perhaps sooner than initially expected.

Decisions on that front will be made by incoming new sporting director Dan Ashworth – very much regarded as one of the best around – alongside Ratcliffe and whoever United’s manager over the 2024/25 campaign ends up being.

While discussions over the manager will likely be held once the season ends, the club are wasting little time it seems in trying to prise some of Europe’s top talents to Old Trafford to kick things off.

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Per widespread reports, Ratcliffe and Ashworth want four major signings this summer with the Red Devils looking to strenghten their spine and bring in a new defender, midfielder and striker. A new right winger is also seen as a desirable addition.

Now according to Portuguese outlet Record, United are plotting to make two blockbuster signings straight off the bat, having reportedly met Mendes for talks.

Man Utd ‘hold talks’ over Joao Neves and Rafael Leao deals

They claim United’s number one objective is a new midfielder and partner for 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in the engine room, with Benfica’s Joao Neves seen as their top target.

The Benfica midfielder is only 19 but has already established himself as one of the best young midfielders in European football and has also earned massive praise from United skipper Bruno Fernandes.

Any deal for him will not come cheap, however, with the teenager having a whopping €120m (£102m) exit clause in his Benfica deal.

And while the Portuguese club will try and secure as much of that fee as possible, his sale does look increasingly likely with Benfica needing to sell and with Record claiming a deal now looks an ‘increasingly likely scenario’.

Represented by Mendes, Ratcliffe reportedly hopes a deal can be struck to bring the teenager to Old Trafford and help create the most dynamic and young midfield partnership in not just the Premier League but also in Europe.

During those talks, it’s claimed Ratcliffe has also enquired about the possibility of bringing another of Mendes’ clients to United in the form of Rafael Leao.

The AC Milan forward has played his part in a huge 93 goals (57 goals, 37 assists) during his 203 appearances for the Italian giants, since a move from Lille back in August 2019.

That form has earned him a reputation as one of European football’s hottest properties, and with it, a predictably heavy price tag.

Per the report, however, it is claimed Mendes has let United know that a deal to bring him to Old Trafford from Milan can be done for a fee of €175m (£149m).

Man Utd ready to let costly duo move on

In turn it’s claimed United have informed Mendes they are ‘willing to pay’ the fee, with the super-agent now ‘preparing a new operation’ for his client by moving him on to Old Trafford this summer.

The massive £251m double deal, though, will not come without consequences and it’s reported United will help fund the moves by allowing two of their most costly players to move on in the form of £70m signing Casemiro and long-serving forward Anthony Martial.

The pair take home a whopping £650,000 a week in wages – money which can be offset against the arrivals of the Portuguese pair, who would earn much less.

And while it has been confirmed by Fabrizio Romano that Martial will leave as a free agent, United still hope to claim a pretty sizeable transfer fee for Brazil midfielder Casemiro, who still has two years left to run, with the option of an addional year.

IN DEPTHThe four problem positions Ratcliffe must fix at Man Utd this summer and who might solve their weaknesses

Discussing Martial’s impending exit, Romano said on his X, formely Twitter, account: “Anthony Martial will leave Man Utd at the end of the season, no doubts.

“He’s going to pick his favourite option as next club in the coming months, now focused on recovery.”

Martial has been with United since a 2015 move from Monaco, which cost an initial £36m and eventually topped £44.7m once add-ons were factored in.

Unlikely to play again for the club, Martial will leave United with 90 goals and 48 assists in 317 appearances.