Man Utd: Solskjaer gives thoughts on title race
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Manchester United are willing to pay £61million to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla this summer, according to reports. The defender is one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top transfer targets. He’s eager to sign a new centre-back to partner Harry Maguire, having been left unconvinced by Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe so far.
United signed Maguire from Leicester for a huge £80m back in the summer transfer window of 2019.
But though he’s impressed in the time since, the Red Devils still feel he can improve further.
As a result, both Solskjaer and the United hierarchy are looking to recruit a top centre-back when the transfer window reopens at the end of the campaign.
Dayot Upamecano won’t be joining, with the Frenchman poised to move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich at the end of the campaign.
United are worried about Sergio Ramos’ fitness, while Real are eager to tie team-mate Raphael Varane down to a new contract.
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And Kounde has emerged as their top targets in recent weeks, with the Sevilla star shining in La Liga this term with some commanding displays.
Now, as a result, La Razon claim United are willing to pay £61m to bring Kounde to Old Trafford at the end of the campaign.
That’s significant, especially due to the fact the Red Devils’ competitors for the 22-year-old don’t have the same financial muscle.
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Real are keen to sign Kounde too but have other priorities. Furthermore, they’d also need to get the likes of Isco and Mariano Diaz off the wage bill to free up funds.
PSG are admirers, too, but their priority is Ramos – who is looking increasingly likely to leave the Bernabeu behind.
And United, it seems, are now frontrunners in the race to sign Kounde.
Solskjaer was wowed by the youngster last season, with the Frenchman outstanding as Sevilla knocked the Red Devils out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage.
And whether the club are successful in their pursuit remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, United legend Gary Neville has slammed Maguire, Lindelof and David De Gea for their inconsistent performances this term.
“I don’t think the discussions we’re having now are anything new,” he told Sky Sports on Monday.
“We said at the start of the season that Manchester United needed a centre-back, and that there were question marks over the goalkeeper.
“If you look at the goal against West Brom, it’s not going to take those feelings away.
“They were taken back into the box with Diagne fighting with Lindelof, and West Brom keep the ball alive. Sam Allardyce will have worked on this all week.
“He’d have worked on positions in wide areas, and both Maguire and Lindelof don’t shift up. They don’t move their feet three, four, five yards.
“They never do and they have to do it. If they don’t start doing it, they’re never going to get to a point where they’re going to win the league.
“Going back 10 years it was the same – you’ve got to be aggressive in getting out your box. What happens is Lindelof gets pinned. He got pinned by a player who’s stronger than him, who outmuscles him and who bullies him. Once you’re in that position, it’s a nightmare.
“There will be people who will say it’s a foul. It’s never a foul. It’s never a foul at all.
“It’s a brilliant header. Lindelof is too deep and is outmuscled. He’s fighting with the striker.
“When I played centre-back for United, which would be around 10 to 15 games a season, there was always a game where physically I just couldn’t handle it. I’ve got two goals I can remember which stick in my mind as massive learning experiences.
“The first was against Les Ferdinand [QPR, December 1994]. Les was brilliant in the air and I was like Lindelof on Sunday. He got up early and I was trying to fight him but I had no chance.
“The second one I remember was against Alan Shearer at Old Trafford [Newcastle, January 2002]. Shearer knew what he was doing. He has a similar height to Ferdinand, and I think Lindelof finds himself in this position quite a bit where he gets put under pressure like I was with that goal where I wasn’t tight enough.
“Lindelof does struggle aerially, whereas Maguire struggles when the ball is played in behind him and he has someone running at him one-on-one.”
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