Manchester United face paying higher than initial expected for Pau Torres after reports claimed Napoli had emerged as genuine rivals for his signature.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to sign a new defender this summer, as he seeks the perfect partner for Harry Maguire. Torres was recently identified as one of four defenders the club had shortlisted this summer. The Spain defender has emerged as one of LaLiga’s top centre-backs at Villarreal.
Indeed, reports last month suggested that United had already made contact over a move.
And the fact that Torres is a left footer puts him near the top of Solskjaer’s wish list.
United’s prospects of securing his signing have been given a timely lift too. To that end, Torres would reportedly be keen to move to Old Trafford.
Torres, 24, has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for €60m (£51.5m). However, due to the global economic crisis a fee less than that was expected to secure his signature.
However, Napoli’s emergence as a genuine contender for his signature looks set to scupper that plan. With one game left, Gli Azzurri are on course to edge out Juventus for the fourth Champions League place.
And they have earmarked Torres as an ideal long-term successor to Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese defender could be offloaded for the right price this summer.
Armed with the cash from his sale, Napoli, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, are keen to bring in Torres.
Torres has a close friendship with Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz and could help them win the race to his signature.
And that, according to the Italian paper, could spell bad news for United in their desire to bring Torres to Old Trafford.
Furthermore, it could impact on the player’s price too. As per Gazzetta, Villarreal are now hoping a bidding war between the pair could see his price rise to as much as €75m.
Torres is contracted to 2024 so Villarreal are under no pressure to sell. The defender will start the Europa League final against United next Wednesday in Gdansk.
He will also get the chance to further his reputation while playing for Spain at this summer’s European Championships.
Torres addresses his future
Torres himself has admitted he will consider his future once the current season comes to an end. He’s also admitted to having contact with teammates over a prospective move.
“Players who have gone through important clubs, when they talk about an experience they have had, I like to listen to them, both Paco Alcacer and Raul Albiol or Alberto Moreno,” Torres said.
“They tell you things that you have not yet experienced and that you think you would like to experience.”
Despite admitting to talks over a move to ‘important clubs’, Torres insists his focus remains on a successful end to the season with Villarreal.
As well as Europa League glory, they also hope to qualify again for the competition through their LaLiga placing.
He said: “It is a pride to see that your work is reflected in this type of thing that is spoken, but I face it with great tranquility. I am in a great club like Villarreal and from the tranquility I work every day.
“I’m not thinking about that [transfer] either. There is still a lot ahead of me and my short-term goals are the European semi-final and then to be available for Spain.
“Right now I have a contract (until 2024) and I know that I still have room for improvement. I know that I am in a club where they will treat me well. I will not lack anything and that is very important to me.”