Man Utd tipped to make January swoop for Declan Rice alternative

Sandro Tonali TEAMtalk

Manchester United are seemingly set to turn their attentions towards a highly-rated Brescia star after being priced out of a move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds himself a man under pressure after the club made their worst ever start to a Premier League season, with reports in Italy claiming a successful Serie A replacement was being lined up.

Gary Neville believes a lack of leaders is proving costly to Solskjaer this season, while he’s also identified five signings the club must make – with new midfielders very much a priority.

Reports in Tuesday’s papers claimed Sean Longstaff could again be targeted in January, but Solskjaer is believed to favour a swoop for West Ham star Rice.

However, the Hammers are believed to value Rice at around the £90million mark – money the club are simply not prepared to pay, and more so with a warning from Jamie Carragher about spending such lavish sums on a holding midfielder in January.

As such, the Daily Star claims United are instead preparing a swoop for Brescia star Sandro Tonali and believe a fee of €50m (£45m ) could be enough to persuade the Serie A new boys to sell.

Tonali has been compared to Andrea Pirlo and it’s claimed United will have the midfielder watched on Tuesday night at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti when they take on Juventus.

The 19-year-old played a key role for Massimo Cellino’s side as they earned promotion last season and United’s scouts will be eager to see how he fares against the mite of the eight-time reigning Serie A champions.

The likes of Juve, Borussia Dortmund, Roma and Valencia have all also been linked with Tonali, but it’s thought a favourable display tonight could see the player leap to the top of United’s wishlist and an approach then readied in January.

Cellino addressed interest in the player at the tail end of last year and spoke about what it would take to convince Brescia to sell.

“No-one’s called me for Tonali yet, although it’s understandable that everyone likes him. If – and when – the time comes to sell him, not just a super offer will be enough to convince me,” the former Leeds owner said.

Sandro Tonali TEAMtalk

“Those who want Tonali will have to show the lad and I the most love. When I say love, I mean with regards to their the approach, the right time, not distracting him from Brescia.

“These aspects are more important than the money, like it happened with [Radja] Nainggolan at Cagliari.

“Tonali has the quality of the champion but is humble. I hope God keeps him like that, but I’m optimistic because he has two exemplary parents.

“He is Italy’s future, but he is Brescia’s present.”

Ed Woodward, meanwhile, has hinted that United’s hunt for a new sporting director has been shelved.