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Man Utd suffer blow as Benfica look set to sign Santos striker Marcos Leonardo

Manchester United have suffered an early blow in the January transfer window with Benfica on the verge of signing Santos striker Marcos Leonardo.

The 20-year-old is one of the best emerging strikers in South America. The Brazilian netted an impressive 21 goals across all competitions for Santos last term.

Earlier last month, it was revealed that United were keeping tabs on the forward, who is expected to be sold by Santos following their shock relegation.

Benfica are now in pole position to sign him with Santos president Marcelo Teixeira confirming a formal proposal from the Portuguese outfit yesterday.

Teixeira disclosed the bid with an Instagram post where he was exchanging jerseys with Benfica sporting director Rui Pedro Braz and also confirmed a phone call with president Rui Costa.

Meanwhile, Portuguese outlet O Jogo (page 10) reveal that a transfer is close to completion between the clubs. Santos are set to receive around €18 million.

Man Utd set to miss out on another emerging star to Benfica

United have spent plenty of money in the transfer market over the years, but they have struggled when it comes to pursuing emerging talent from South America.

They lost out on the services of Moises Caicedo to Brighton & Hove Albion in 2021. They were monitoring River Plate’s Enzo Fernandez in 2022 before Benfica signed him.

Both players ended up joining Chelsea in nine-figure sums last year. It now seems United have missed out on the opportunity to land Leonardo in the current transfer window.

The youngster has shown plenty of promise with his goalscoring, but the Red Devils may have to look elsewhere to strengthen their centre-forward department this winter.

As things stand, the club are exploring loan deals. With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority investment yet to be approved by the Premier League, no permanent signings are on the cards.

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