Man Utd eye Barcelona old boy with talks ‘underway’ over interim appointment

Reports claim Manchester United have ‘opened talks’ with ex-Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde about taking the Old Trafford role until the end of the season.  

The Red Devils are currently under the temporary stewardship of Michael Carrick after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal. The Norwegian paid the price for the Red Devils’ woeful run of form and a number of insipid performances. Unsurprisingly, many names have been put forward as possibilities to replace Solskjaer on a permanent basis.

Mauricio Pochettino appears to be the current favourite. The Paris Saint-Germain chief seems up for the challenge and has been endorsed by Pep Guardiola.

But he may not be available until the end of the season. That leaves a huge void to fill for the next six months and the club’s hierarchy reportedly want Valverde.

The 57-year-old has an excellent footballing CV. The Spaniard claimed two LaLiga titles and one Copa del Rey while in charge of Barcelona.

He also won a couple of Greek titles during two separate spells in charge of Olympiacos. The former forward has also managed Athletic Bilbao (twice), as well as Villarreal, Valencia and Espanyol.

But his last job was with the Catalans between May 2017 and January 2020. Barca sacked him midway through the 2019-2020 campaign and he has not worked since.

That may be about to change as The Guardian claim football director John Murtough has held preliminary talks with Valverde.

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Italian transfer guru Fabrizio Romano suggests he is one of five men under consideration for the interim job.

Valverde ‘planning’ United winter recruitment

While United’s season is not yet a total write-off, a title challenge seems out of the question. The north-west giants sit eighth in the standings and are 12 points adrift of table-topping Chelsea.

It would be unusual for an interim manager to have too much say in signing players. But it has also been claimed that he is already ‘putting preliminary plans in place’ to strengthen the under-fire United squad.

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There is no questioning the club’s attacking ranks but central midfield continues to be an issue. West Ham superstar Declan Rice has been heavily linked to solve the issue.

Declan Rice West Ham November 2021

But he would cost in excess of the £100m Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish last summer. It is also unlikely the Hammers would let him leave midway through a season which is shaping up to be every bit as good as 2020-2021.

READ MORE: Ed Woodward decided against ‘awkward’ move before appointing Michael Carrick