Huge fee sees Man Utd end defender hunt – but bid eyed for £43m Plan B

Date published: Saturday 27th February 2021 9:31 - James Marshment

Pau Torres Spain press

Manchester United are set to abandon their plans to sign Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, amid fears a deal for the French defender could spiral beyond their means.

United are said to have made the Sevilla defender a top priority this summer, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to pair Harry Maguire with a world-class partner.

Kounde, 22, has emerged as one of Europe’s top defensive prospects, and was an option for Manchester City before they signed Ruben Dias.

Dias has been a revelation since arriving at the Etihad, with City storming clear at the top of the table.

Pep Guardiola’s men have kept 24 clean sheets in all competitions. To that end, United were keen on bringing in Kounde to make a similar impact.

However, it was reported this week that Sevilla’s £68m asking price for Kounde is simply too steep. While that is significatly lower than his €90m release clause, it is still more than United are willing to spend.

And with Sevilla refusing to budge on their asking price, United are being forced to look at alternatives.

According to Eurosport, that man looks likely to be Villarreal’s Pau Torres.

The Spain defender has emerged as one of LaLiga’s best defenders and can be signed for significantly less than Kounde. That’s due to the release clause in his deal, which is set at just £43m.

With the global pandemic hitting United’s spending powers, Torres looks a far more realistic option for United. They could even convince the La Liga outfit to sell for a fee slightly lower than his exit clause.


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Eric Bailly tipped to head in other direction

Furthermore, United could allow Eric Bailly to depart as part of the deal. Our exclusive back in November revealed Bailly could be offered back to his former club as part of the deal.

Eric Bailly, Manchester United defender

They signed the Ivory Coast international in 2016 for £30million. But he has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and very much looks disposable.

Bailly’s current deal runs until 2022 and he’s been linked with Premier League rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Real Madrid are also said to be keen on Torres and see him as a potential long-term replacement for Sergio Ramos. The veteran defender will be a free agent this summer, with United mentioned as potential suitors.

Los Blancos, however, will prioritise David Alaba before considering Torres. The Austrian is also a free agent and has already confirmed his exit at Bayern Munich.

 

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