Ten Hag stung as No 1 Man Utd target’s price tag soars and Chelsea thunder in with first approach

France centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo, Man Utd, Chelsea badges

Manchester United could be priced out of signing their No 1 transfer target this month amid a soaring valuation, though that may not prevent Chelsea from stepping in, according to reports.

Signing a new centre-half became Man Utd’s primary focus in the build-up to the January transfer window. On that front, one target stood out above all others – Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo.

The 23-year-old has starred for the meanest defence in Ligue 1 this season. Indeed, Nice have remarkably conceded just nine goals in 17 matches thus far.

The Mirror labelled Todibo as United’s No 1 target and the Sir Jim Ratcliffe connection has been tipped to serve United well. Ratcliffe is purchasing a 25 percent stake in Man Utd and also owns Nice.

Concerns over United’s current crop at centre-back were emboldening United to sanction a signing. The Red Devils attempted to sell Harry Maguire last summer, while Jonny Evans is 35 and both he and Raphael Varane are free agents at season’s end.

Todibo had been listed alongside a valuation in the £35m-£40m range. That fairly modest price tag had also seen Tottenham register their interest.

Spurs held talks with Nice, though manager Ange Postecoglou publicly declared he wanted a deal wrapped up nice and early this month.

With a Todibo deal projected to drag on, Tottenham quickly turned their attention to Genoa’s Radu Dragusin, thus leaving the door ajar for Man Utd.

But when running the rule over Todibo’s future last week, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano hinted Nice are upping the ante with regards to the fee required.

Romano told Caught Offside: “I’m sure Todibo remains on Manchester United’s list since last summer and even now; but could he be one for June. Nice want big money now so it looks like a difficult deal.”

Todibo price rises to £52m; Chelsea undeterred

According to a fresh update from Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, Todibo’s valuation has now risen to €60m (approx. £52m).

MD’s report focuses on what part Barcelona will play in proceedings. It’s revealed the Catalan club have a 20 percent sell-on clause in Todibo’s contract at Nice. That is perhaps a key reason why Nice are determined to extract maximum value.

Man Utd are believed to be operating on a limited budget this month. With Ratcliffe’s partial takeover still awaiting Premier League approval, United’s coffers remain a touch light prior to any player sales.

What’s more, United now look set to loan Jadon Sancho out to Borussia Dortmund rather than collect a fee by way of a sale.

Furthermore, talk of Varane leaving this month has also cooled. All of those factors combined would suggest Todibo to Man Utd in January is not on the cards right now.

As Romano alluded to, United could look to revisit the move at season’s end. However, Todibo could already be in England at that time.

TEAMtalk revealed on January 1 that Chelsea had thundered into the mix for the French centre-half and made their first enquiry into the move.

Talks between Chelsea and Nice are yet to open, though the ball is now rolling. Chelsea also hold strong relations with Todibo’s agent, Bruno Satin.

Unlike United, Chelsea do have cash to splash this month. And if Football Insider’s claims about Thiago Silva leaving at season’s end are accurate, signing Todibo six months in advance would make all the sense in the world.

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