Manchester United are reportedly in contact with the agent of Sporting Lisbon defender Goncalo Inacio over a potential summer swoop – and they may have an ace up their sleeves in a bid to secure the Portuguese star’s services.
Erik ten Hag has enjoyed great success in his first season at the helm at Old Trafford. Having already won the Carabao Cup, the club could yet add more silverware in the FA Cup, where they tackle city rivals Manchester City. By the time that game comes around, United will also hope to have held off the challenge of Liverpool for a top-four finish.
Part of Ten Hag’s success this season has been forged on finding a settled central defence. To that end, both Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have firmly established themselves as the preferred partnership. That has left the likes of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof having to make do with reduced roles.
However, Maguire may well find his time at the club coming to an end this summer. And while the player is reportedly determined to stay and fight for his place, his position as club captain means a departure looks a likely outcome.
But if the England man departs, then Ten Hag will surely look to bring in more cover and competition in defence. Indeed, with that first-choice pair currently sidelined, that need has never been more apparent.
And as a result, the United manager is reportedly hot on the trail of Napoli defender Kim Min-jae.
Man Utd turn focus to Sporting star Inacio
Competition though for the South Korean is understandably high. His exit clause, worth around £42m, comes active for two weeks at the start of July and a number of top clubs are hot on his trail.
However, it seems that particular race is being led by Man City.
Not to be too disappointed, however, Ten Hag has seemingly turned his focus towards a new top target. And the man he is now zoning in on is Sporting Lisbon’s impressive 21-year-old star Inacio.
The once-capped Portugal internaional stands 6ft 1in tall and bears more than a passing resemblance to compatriot Ruben Dias.
Blessed with similar attributes, Dias has featured in 48 matches this season, scoring three times.
However, with a £39.7m (€45m) exit clause in his deal, Sporting are fearful that he could be all-too-easily prised away this summer.
Now, according to O Jogo, United have made initial contact with the player’s agent over a deal to sign him. Per the report, that meeting was to establish the conditions needed for the club to secure his signature.
Crucially for United, they reportedly hold a key advantage should they decide to pursue his signature. And with Inacio represented by Bruno Fernandes’ agent, Miguel Pinho, they feel they have a very real and genuine chance at landing him.
Man Utd hold transfer ace card
Sporting, for their part, are determined to tie Inacio down to a new deal. That current arrangement is not due to expire until summer 2026, though there seems little urgency from the player to commit to an extension.
Furthermore, there is a strong chance Pinho will instead look to steer his client to Old Trafford. And if United firm up their interest, they would seemingly have a strong chance of sealing a deal.
And while Newcastle are also reportedly keen, it is United who will be favourites to sign him thanks to Pinho.
At just shy of £40m, United may well be sorely tempted to pursue a deal. And that will surely become all the more tempting for Ten Hag if they can claw back a hefty fee for Maguire to help fund the signing.