Manchester United: Interest in defender ends; right-back set for exit; Winger criticises club
Manchester United conducted a very successful summer transfer window, but were perhaps one centre back short of Jose Mourinho being truly happy with his squad. Yes, they signed the excellent Eric Bailly, who already looks like a complete centre-back at the relatively tender age of 22, but news in the last few days that the manager tried to sign Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane as well show that he is not yet fully satisfied with his options.
One player he will not be signing to fill this gap in the team is Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci, who is set to sign a new contract with the Italian champions.
Bonucci, who excelled at the European Championships for his mixture of robust defending and excellent passing attracted a lot of attention from England over the summer, with United, Manchester City and Chelsea all interested in his signature.
Juventus rejected several offers for the 29-year-old, and now look as if they are holding onto their man with the new deal.
As one of the best defenders in Europe, and with plenty of experience, Mourinho may have identified Bonucci as the perfect partner for the strong, athletic but still inexperienced Bailly. The Italian would have been an excellent addition to the Premier League, but will continue to marshall defences in Italy for the immediate future.
Sticking with Italian defenders, the future for right-back Matteo Darmian looks increasingly poor at Old Trafford, with Italian newspaper Tuttosport reporting a “complete breakdown” between the defender and manager Jose Mourinho.
Darmian arrived in Manchester last summer for £12 million, and initially looked like a bargain. However, injury and a loss of form quickly pushed him down the pecking order, and he soon found himself struggling behind right winger Antonio Valencia and 18-year-old Timothy Fosu-Mensah in Louis van Gaal’s team selection.
The Italian seems to be in the same position under Mourinho, and with a personal breakdown reported a move could well be on the cards.
Juventus are reported to be interested in a move and are planning a loan in January with the option to buy next summer. United, though, are keen to get £17 million for the 26-year-old, a fee which the Old Lady are unwilling to part with for a player who has had such a poor year.
Still, if Darmian is not going to play at Manchester United, it will be worth letting him go back to Italy to restart his career with Juventus. There is no point of keeping him on the bench at Old Trafford if he has opportunities elsewhere, so United should seriously consider selling him in January.
Finally, winger Adnan Januzaj has taken a swipe at former manager Louis van Gaal and current boss Jose Mourinho as he looks to rebuild his career on loan at Sunderland.
After bursting onto the scene in 2013/14 under David Moyes, Januzaj bemoaned the lack of opportunities he was given under van Gaal, and was sent to train with the reserves this summer under Mourinho as his United career continued to unravel.
The 22-year-old is clearly talented, as his Sunderland form has so far shown, but still looks a bit lightweight on the ball to be a real asset for Manchester United. He will need to have a stellar season at the Stadium of Light in order to force his way back into Mourinho’s plans for next season.
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