Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe gets green light to sign top Man Utd target as £69m star talks up Prem ‘goal’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Man Utd

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a top striker on his radar

Manchester United chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a better chance of landing ‘priority’ target Morten Hjulmand after the Dane reacted to praise from Bruno Fernandes and spoke about his desire to play in the Premier League.

Man Utd are known to be on the hunt for a new defensive midfielder who can replace Casemiro, with the former Real Madrid star heading into the final stage of his career and being heavily linked with a switch to Saudi Arabia. It seems the battle to become Man Utd’s new No 6 has come down to two players.

Ever since Ratcliffe completed his purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Man Utd, the Red Devils have been linked with Benfica’s Joao Neves.

Earlier this week, Ratcliffe and Man Utd’s interest in Neves appeared to cool as Sporting Lisbon star Hjulmand was named as their top target to solve the defensive midfield problem.

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But on Wednesday, Man Utd started the bidding for Neves by offering Benfica €60million (£51m), though this was swiftly rejected as the Portuguese giants want far closer to the 19-year-old’s £102m release clause before selling.

Man Utd are very unlikely to match that huge exit clause, however, and this could see Ratcliffe turn his full focus to Hjulmand.

While Neves will cost £102m, initial reports have stated that Man Utd can sign Hjulmand for £69m, or potentially even less.

Plus, Hjulmand is five years older than Neves, while he has just had an excellent season after helping Sporting win the Primeira Liga title.

Man Utd transfers: Morten Hjulmand open to move

It seems Hjulmand will be delighted if he gets the chance to move to Old Trafford this summer. In an interview with Danish media, the former Lecce captain was asked about recent praise from Man Utd skipper Fernandes.

“It’s always great to receive praise from other big profiles,” he replied. “I know he’s a former Sporting player and he’s still a big fan of the club, so it’s great to know he’s still watching.

“It can only make me happy to receive praise from a player like him.”

While Hjulmand did not call the Premier League a ‘dream’, he did admit that he would love to shine in England if given the opportunity.

“I’d say that it is a destination I could see myself going to in the future,” he added. “Whether it’s a dream, I don’t know. But it is a goal for me to play in the Premier League one day.”

Hjulmand could end up being a fantastic signing for Man Utd. He is already a natural leader, whereas it would take fellow transfer target Neves time to become one of the biggest voices in the Man Utd dressing room, due to his tender age.

Hjulmand, who has won six caps for Denmark so far, has also been labelled a ‘tenacious’ yet ‘intelligent’ midfielder who excels at intercepting opposition passes. He is quick at giving the ball to his more attacking team-mates, too.

Should Man Utd press ahead with their move for Hjulmand and capture him, then the club’s fans will be hoping he can have similar success to Fernandes, who also arrived from Sporting.

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