Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe transfer hijack in tatters as Inter beat Man Utd to clever deal for Spain international

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Man Utd

Man Utd part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Manchester United have seen late interest in signing Genoa goalkeeper Josep Martinez fail, with Fabrizio Romano confirming the Spain international is set to push through a bargain move to Inter Milan before the end of the week.

The Red Devils have a number of key issues to fix in their side this summer, having suffered hugely-fluctuating fortunes over the 2023/24 season that saw them win the FA Cup but crash and burn in the Champions League, before only recording an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League. Having also suffered an alarming 14 losses in the league, that represents Manchester United‘s poorest-ever season since the competition was formed in 1992 and their lowest finish to any season since 1989/90.

However, with new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe now having his feet firmly under the table, work is beginning at transforming the club’s fortunes and ensuring they become a major force once again in the English and European game.

To kick things off, Ratcliffe has assembled a crack team of specialists behind the scenes with Omar Berrada arriving as CEO, while Jean-Claude Blanc (director) and Jason Wilcox (technical director) have also been recruited.

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Ratcliffe’s plans to appoint Dan Ashworth as sporting director, however, continue to face a delay with compensation talks between the clubs hitting a brick wall. As it stands, it remains debatable if Ashworth will be in place before the summer window is out.

Nonetheless, Ratcliffe, working alongside Wilcox and manager Erik ten Hag – who has been retained and will be offered a two-year contract extension – will decide between them over whom to sign, with a new defender, central midfielder and striker very much on their radar this summer.

Man Utd transfers: Ratcliffe beaten to Josep Martinez deal

However, one area that Ratcliffe is also seemingly hoping to improve on is on goal.

United brought in two new goalkeepers last summer with Andre Onana – in a deal worth an initial £43.8m from Inter Milan – and Altay Bayindir – £4.3m from Fenerbahce – both arriving at Old Trafford.

While Onana went on to complete nine clean sheets for United this season, he was not without his critics and, having conceded 58 goals in the Premier League this season, Red Devils supporters may have felt somewhat underwhelmed by the impact the Cameroon international made.

His understudy, Bayindir, meanwhile, made just one appearance for the club all season – the 4-2 FA Cup win over Newport County.

Deemed not quite ready for the physicality of the Premier League, it perhaps comes as no shock that United are now in the market and considering options to move to the club as cover and competition for Onana and amid claims Bayindir may even depart after just one season in the north-west.

As a result, reports on Tuesday claimed Ratcliffe was plotting an 11th-hour bid to beat Inter Milan to the capture of Spain international goalkeeper Martinez.

The 26-year-old established himself as one of the leading goalkeepers in Serie A over the last year, having initially joined Genoa on loan from RB Leipzig in summer 2022.

That move became permanent last summer when Genoa paid the Bundesliga side €3.5m for his signature on a deal running to 2025, with an additional year.

However, after keeping eight clean sheets from 36 appearances over the season  – conceding just 36 goals in the process – Martinez suddenly finds himself a man in demand.

Fabrizio Romano confirms transfer agreement

However, despite claims United had launched a €12.5m bid to try and convince Genoa into his sale, Fabrizio Romano has on Wednesday revealed that a move to take the player to Inter Milan is now in the final stages.

The trusted reporter has revealed that talks over the deal will be held between the two clubs today, with Inter willing to match United’s offer, but also hoping to reduce their outlay by offering 21-year-old midfielder Gaetano Oristanio as part of the deal.

Either way, an agreement between the two sides is expected to be reached on Wednesday, with Romano describing the deal as being “in the final stages now”.

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Martinez, capped once by Spain back in 2021, made his way in the game through the famed Barcelona La Masia academy.

Speaking earlier this year, Martinez claims one of his idols in the game is former United hero David De Gea.

“Goalkeeping inspiration? I’ve been looking at (Real Madrid legend Iker) Casillas. Then, I also liked De Gea a lot,” Martinez told EuroFoot.

“My goal or my dream would be to play in the Champions League, and also to work very hard to try to get closer to the level of the goalkeepers who are in the national team.”

Now, with his move to Inter a significant step closer, Martinez looks set to realise that Champions League dream after all.