Manchester United are targeting AS Roma centre-back Mehdi Benatia, as Louis Van Gaal looks to bolster his defensive options, after missing out on Thomas Vermaelen and Mats Hummels.
ESPN claims that sources within the club are adamant the United manager is determined to bring in two players between Benatia, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo before the end of the transfer window, as Van Gaal currently has only three centre-backs at his disposal and the injury to Luke Shaw complicates things even further.
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Benatia, who’s also attracted strong interest from Manchester City and Chelsea and a host of other European clubs, could cost United in the region of £30m, though Roma are unlikely to be willing to part way with one of their best players, particularly after a transfer window during which the club from the Eternal City has strengthened its squad in a bid to break Juventus’ stranglehold on Serie A.
The Moroccan defender was rock-solid for the Giallorossi last season, as Roma conceded a mere 25 goals in 38 games, the league’s second-best after Juventus’ – the eventual champions conceded 23 – and Benatia proved to be a threat at the other end of the pitch too, scoring five goals in 33 appearances.
Strong in the air and physically imposing, Benatia is the prototype of the modern defender, as his size doesn’t hinder his pace and movement and he’s also an excellent reader of the game.
With Van Gaal growing frustrated at the lack of transfers, particularly after seeing Vermaelen – thought to be one of the Dutchman’s main targets – moving to Barcelona and with Borussia Dortmund adamant that Hummels will remain at the Westfalenstadion this summer, Benatia would represent an excellent signing for United.
The situation surrounding Rojo is slightly more complicated, as the Argentine defender has apparently been told by Sporting Lisbon that he’ll be demoted to the reserve team if he refuses to train in order to push through a move to another club. While Sporting’s decision might complicated things for United, it’s also perfectly understandable.
According to ESPN, Van Gaal had hoped to have the majority of business done by Friday, but he’s becoming increasingly annoyed with Ed Woodward and the lack of results the last two months have produced.
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