Even as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s potential move to Old Trafford dominates the headlines, the Red Devils have approached Jose Mourinho’s former club for defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic reportedly set to bolster the Manchester United attack by joining on a free transfer this summer, Jose Mourinho’s next targets are midfielder Nemanja Matic and defender Eric Bailly.
The Red Devils, who are hopeful of wrapping up the signing of the Villarreal centre-back before the Euros, will be encouraged by the La Liga side’s willingess to come to an agreement. Meanwhile, Mourinho is keen to add Matic to the United midfield and the club have reportedly approached Chelsea over a move for the Serbian.
Manchester United approach Chelsea for Nemanja Matic
Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic faced a dramatic reversal of fortunes last season. After winning the Premier League and featuring in the PFA Team of the Year in 2014-15, the 27-year-old was part of the Chelsea team that was hovering just above the relegation zone under Jose Mourinho, before eventually finding himself playing second fiddle to John Obi Mikel.
Following his lacklustre campaign with the Blues, Matic has been widely tipped to leave the club this summer, with Juventus one of the clubs expressing a solid interest. But with former manager Jose Mourinho arriving at Manchester United, the Red Devils are now strong favourites to sign him and the player himself is also believed to be keen to stay in the Premier League.
The Red Devils have approached Chelsea over the availability of Nemanja Matic, according to reputed Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio. Mourinho was the manager who brought Matic from Benfica to Stamford Bridge in 2014 and the two share an excellent relationship.
Matic is rated at £30 million pounds by transfermarkt.com, but his contract at Chelsea extends till 2019 and the club would definitely seek to make a healthy profit on the player considering that they would be strengthening one of their direct domestic rivals should they agree on a sale.
Villarreal official leaves door open for Eric Bailly to Manchester United
One of the areas where Manchester United are in desperate need of improvement is the centre-back position. Because Daley Blind is not a traditional centre-back, Jose Mourinho is unlikely to follow Louis van Gaal’s footsteps and use the Dutchman in the centre of United’s defence.
22-year-old Villarreal defender Eric Bailly has emerged as the prime defensive target for the Red Devils this summer, with Manchester United reportedly ready to splash £27.6 million on the Ivory Coast centre-back. They have received a huge boost in their pursuit of the player, with Villarreal CEO Fernando Roig Nogueroles leaving the door open for his exit.
“There is a team that is very interested and if the three parties agree there will be no problems. If the player wants to leave and Manchester want to pay, we will reach an agreement,” the Villarreal official told Spanish media, according to Manchester Evening News.
Eric Bailly joined Villarreal from Espanyol in January 2015, but could already be on the move while handing the La Liga club a tidy profit of more than £22 million.
The Ivory Coast defender was instrumental to his national team when they won the African Cup of Nations last year for only the second time. He has since been a mainstay in the Yellow Submarine defence, making 34 appearances for them in all competitions. His importance was further underscored as his absence from Villarreal’s second leg semi-final clash against Liverpool saw them lose 3-0, after winning the first leg 1-0.
While Bailly is a talented defender and tough tackler, one of the areas he would need to improve on is his discipline. The Ivorian received 11 yellow cards and a red for Villarreal last season and Manchester United could do without another card-prone central defender, with their defensive stalwart Chris Smalling also prone to picking up the occasional booking.