Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe gunning to sign supreme €100m-rated man as costly Man Utd star told it’s game over under Ten Hag

Benfica's Antonio Silva is a target for Manchester United

Benfica's Antonio Silva is a target for Manchester United

Manchester United have reportedly initated contact with top agency Gestifute over a deal to sign Antonio Silva – and it’s claimed Benfica are indeed willing to discuss a deal and with Sir Jim Ratcliffe bidding to find an upgrade for a costly Red Devils star.

United have failed to find a consistent rhythm so far this season with the promise shown last season under Erik ten Hag stalling badly in the wake of a hugely-frustrating campaign. Having crashed out of the Champions League – and Europe altogether – at the first possible hurdle, and in embarrassing circumstances at that, Manchester United‘s league form has hardly been much better, either, having lost a woeful 10 times in the Premier League already this season.

That leaves Ten Hag’s side a worrying eight points adrift of the Champions League places and with some serious catching up to do – and little margin for error – if they are to hunt down both Aston Villa and Tottenham who both sit above them.

As a result, speculation is mounting that new minority shareholder Ratcliffe could dispense of Ten Hag’s services, amid claims that the United manager is ‘delusional’ and that his excuses for defeats are starting to irk supporters.

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Whether Ten Hag ends up staying at the helm next season is likely to depend on their securing of a top-four spot and regardless of whether the Dutchman remains, he will have lesser control over the players Manchester United bring in to the club.

And with Dan Ashworth set to take up a role as sporting director once compensation with Newcastle is agreed, the club is already working on a list of potential summer signings.

Man Utd make Antonio Silva contact with Benfica ‘willing to sell’

Per reports, Ratcliffe and Ashworth want to strengthen United’s spine – with a defender, midfielder and a new striker all in their sights.

Now according to reports in Portugal, moves have already been made over the first of these, with O Jogo claiming contact has been established with agency Gestifute over a deal for 20-year-old defender Silva.

They write that United, having already watched the Benfica star on a number of occasions, have identified the seven-times capped centre-half as a top target and want to gauge their client’s thoughts about a prospective move.

The Portuguese giants are protected by a mammoth €100m clause in the defender’s deal, but do have a number of top assets they would consider selling over the summer in a bid to ease their financial pressure.

Indeed, United are also on the trail of his Benfica teammate Joao Neves – a midfielder – though O Jogo’s information is that Benfica would, indeed, rather listen to offers for Silva.

That is music to United’s ears, who will now attempt to establish contact with Benfica in the coming weeks and months to find out exactly how much they would want for the player.

United reportedly believe a €50m (£42.8m) valuation represents a more realistic market valuation for the 81-game star, given both his age and current standing in the game.

However, it remains to be seen if Benfica will drop their demands in light of United’s fans, with the report claiming Ratcliffe could move for either Jarrad Braithwaite or Giorgio Scalvini as alternatives.

Time running out for £40m Man Utd star

Whomever they decide to sign, Ratcliffe is adamant he wants to lower the average age of his United squad and bring in a plethora of talted young stars to help restablish the Red Devils back among the English and European elite.

Behind the scenes, it’s reported the British billionaire has made his frustrations clear at his annoyance at United’s tendancy over the years to pay big-money for several big-name stars very much in the autumn of their careers and for whom United will unlikely see a return on their initial investment.

To that end, reports claim Ratcliffe wants to show both costly signings from Real Madrid the door, with neither Casemiro or Raphael Varane able to show their best form on a consistent basis this season.

Any deal that is struck for Silva – whose full name is Antonio Joao Pereira de Albuquerque Tavares da Silva – will likely mean United listening to offers for World Cup winning defender Varane.

His United deal is due to expire in July 2025 and this summer represents their last chance to claim any sort of substantial fee for the 30-year-old.

Varane has been linked with a move to both Bayern Munich and teams in the Saudi Pro-League. However, reports in Spain claim Varane is attracting attention instead from his former side Real Madrid, who are plotting a surprise move to bring him back to the Bernabeu.

United are reported to have told Varane they will not stand in his way over a summer exit with his time at Old Trafford widely expected to come to an end.

Varane has made 87 appearances over his two and a half seasons with United so far but has found himself in and out of Ten Hag’s side this season.

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