A high profile centre-back valued at €60m has chosen Manchester United ahead of two others as his next club, and a top source has reaffirmed why a stunning summer transfer can take shape.
The centre-back position has thrown up more questions than answers at Old Trafford this season. Lisandro Martinez is the clear stand-out among Erik ten Hag’s five frontline options. However, the unlucky Argentine is once again a long-term injury absentee.
Harry Maguire delivered a man of the match display in the crucial 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday. However, Man Utd actively tried to sell the Englishman last summer and even accepted a £30m bid from West Ham. The move ultimately broke down when Maguire refused to discuss personal terms with the Hammers.
Elsewhere, Victor Lindelof provides adequate depth – when not played out of position at left-back. Rounding out the options are Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans who are both out of contract at season’s end.
Man Utd have opted against activating the one-year extension in Varane’s deal. Triggering it would keep Varane on his colossal £340,000-a-week salary and the Frenchman hasn’t justified such a high pay packet in England.
There has been talk United will attempt to forge a new deal with Varane on greatly reduced terms. That is the approach United took with David de Gea last year and the end result saw De Gea walk away for nothing.
With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover ushering in a new era, major change is expected.
De Ligt ‘picks’ Man Utd
In fact, reports in Spain recently claimed the Dutchman, 24, had ‘picked’ Man Utd over rival suitors Barcelona and PSG.
Explaining why, it was claimed De Ligt looked unfavourably on the quality of Ligue 1, while Barcelona will struggle to finance a move anyway.
De Ligt also has a connection with Erik ten Hag through their time together at Ajax. The Dutch defender is reportedly valued around the €60m mark.
Dutchman unhappy at Bayern; situation about to get worse
Explaining why, the reporter pointed to the fact De Ligt has surprisingly tumbled down the pecking order under Thomas Tuchel.
De Ligt is no longer a guaranteed starter at Bayern and that was evidenced in brutal fashion on Saturday.
Tuchel selected a back three for the top-of-the-table clash with Bayer Leverkusen. Yet going with an extra centre-half still didn’t provide an opportunity for De Ligt who remained an unused substitute in the punishing 3-0 defeat.
Kim Min-jae, Dayot Upamecano and January signing Eric Dier all got the nod ahead of De Ligt.
What’s more, Plettenberg noted Bayern are hell-bent on signing Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo when the summer window opens.
If De Ligt’s situation wasn’t already perilous enough, the arrival of Araujo would be a killer blow to his chances of regular minutes.
“Many were surprised when we exclusively reported that Matthijs de Ligt is a candidate for a transfer in the summer,” stated Plettenberg.
“Today, the reason has been confirmed again. When everyone is fit, he is not a regular starter under Tuchel.
“Despite of his good performances recently he sat on the bench for 90 minutes today in Leverkusen.
“De Ligt, not 100 percent happy with his situation. And Tuchel is still keen on Araujo. De Ligt’s contract valid until 2027.”
Plettenberg previously stated De Ligt to Man Utd could become a “hot topic” in the summer. The defender’s continued snubs certainly suggest a transfer is there for the making.
Man Utd have drawn links with many a centre-back ahead of the summer window. Lille’s Lenny Yoro, Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite, Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo and Juventus’ Gleison Bremer have all been mentioned.
However, with De Ligt unhappy in Munich and the player seemingly open to joining Man Utd, it could be another Ajax alumnus who bolsters the backline next season.