Barcelona are reportedly closing in on an agreement to extend the contract of a Manchester United defensive target in a major blow for Erik ten Hag.
The Catalan giants have been tipped to have a quiet January due to their continued financial uncertainty. Indeed, their main focus has shifted to contract renewals for current stars instead.
One of the contracts that needs addressing is that of promising young left-back Alejandro Balde.
The 19-year-old has had a rapid rise to Barca’s first-team as he competes with Jordi Alba for a starting spot.
Indeed, in 16 appearances prior to the World Cup, the defender laid on three assists.
His impressive form also saw Balde selected for the Spain squad in Qatar, making three appearances before their shock last-16 loss to Morocco on penalties.
However, with the much more experienced Alba still on Barca’s books, United have been testing the waters to see if the LaLiga side are willing to do business for one of their top young talents.
Balde set for lucrative new Barca deal
Balde’s current contract runs out in 2024, but Marca states that both Barcelona and the player are confident that an agreement can be reached over an extension until 2026.
Marca adds that Barca will use their strong relationship with Balde’s agent Jorgen Mendes to get a deal done.
Indeed, Mendes is also expected to play a major role in Barcelona’s chase for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves.
However, the fact that Balde looks set to stay in Spain will come as a blow to Erik ten Hag.
The Red Devils boss wanted Balde on board to create competition for Tyrell Malacia at the left-back spot. That’s despite Luke Shaw showing decent form going into the World Cup break and also with England in Qatar.
Balde a luxury signing for United anyway
The incredibly talented 19-year-old would be a strong addition to United’s squad for years to come. But the fact Ten Hag can already call on Shaw and Malacia makes the addition of Balde a luxury one.
The Old Trafford club are in need of another central striker first and foremost after Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit. Ten Hag, meanwhile, is also said to be in the hunt for another midfielder, with Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez and Dortmund star Jude Bellingham on the club’s radar.
With that in mind, it would be a surprise if United decided to try and bring in Balde. Especially in a position where they are already nicely stocked.
So that leaves Ten Hag focused on landing another forward, although he’s been beaten to the punch by Liverpool for Cody Gakpo.
Atletico Madrid duo Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix remain likely options. However, both would probably be loan additions with a view to buy.
In an ideal world, Ten Hag gets someone on board full-time who is fully committed to United.
However, January has often proved to be a tough time to land top talent. So, with that in mind, Ten Hag may have to wait until the summer to get exactly who he wants.
The Red Devils are in action on Tuesday evening when they host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.