Beleaguered Manchester United to bid for Mehdi Benatia
Louis van Gaal, whose side Manchester United are 8/1 to lift the Premier League trophy this term, has reportedly convinced Red Devils chiefs to step up their chase for transfer targets Mehdi Benatia and Marcos Rojo, following a dispiriting 2-1 defeat to Swansea.
United came undone against the Welsh club, but the opening day loss could be a blessing in disguise. The Old Trafford outfit had seemed to stall their summer dealings after an impressive unbeaten pre-season, but that looks about to change.
It appears that despite a new boss and tactical shake up, many of the old problems still remain, with fresh faces set to be drafted in immediately.
The United hierarchy have now reportedly made an opening bid for Roma centre back Benatia, in an attempt to stem the tide of discontent and bring back the buzz that had revived the club when Van Gaal initially took over.
It is believed Benatia, 27, will cost the Red Devils a fee north of £30m, but such an outlay would be justified if United can construct a solid rearguard to rival legendary pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. The dominating duo were the backbone for much of the Manchester side’s recent success, and replacements are urgently required.
Despite the promising debut of academy product Tyler Blackett, the Red Devils looked short of character and composure in the absence of injury-prone Jonny Evans, and the acquisition of Benatia would go some way to solving the problem.
France-born Benatia represents Morocco, and has won 31 caps for the North African nation since his debut in 2008. He spent much of his youth career at Marseille before being snapped up on a free transfer by Ligue 2 club Clairmont in 2008. The lower level move benefitted the talented defender greatly, and eventually resulted in a switch to Serie A side Udinese in 2010.
Benatia’s rise since then has been startling, with the commanding centre half earning a move to Roma in 2013, making 33 appearances last term, and netting five goals.
His form has attracted many suitors, with Chelsea once thought to be leading the pack, but it appears United are now ready to try and conclude a deal.
Van Gaal is rumoured to be preparing to pair the Morocco international with Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo, who has also been heavily linked with a move to Manchester.
Issues are reported to have arisen over the Argentine international’s ownership, but rumours now indicate a compromise could be reached with Sporting if supposed wantaway winger Nani was included in any offer.
Nani, 27, arrived at Old Trafford from the Portuguese giants in 2007 and, after a mixed seven seasons at the club, could return to his former stomping ground to reignite his career.
United, meanwhile, must move quickly in the transfer window to prevent another year without Champions League football.