Manchester United: Southampton man targeted; Everton want reject; Mourinho criticises squad despite victory

The Mirror claim that Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have switched their attentions from Southampton captain Jose Fonte to his central defensive partner Virgil van Dijk as they seek to bolster their back line, with Mourinho reportedly keen to bring him in to toughen up what he thinks is a soft defence who admit defeat far too easily.

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Van Dijk would not come cheap given that Southampton have repeatedly made it clear that the Dutchman is not for sale since he signed a new deal in the summer, amid interest from Liverpool and United. It’s likely to take at least £30 million to make the Saints even consider an offer, but United should have the ability to spend such a fee in the summer, though a January move seems unlikely.

Everton could be prepared to end Bastian Schweinsteiger’s United hell as he continues in exile, though now training with the Red Devils first team, but Ronald Koeman is considering a loan move for the German if a deal can be reached to see United pay half of the 32-year-old’s £200,000 per week wages until the end of the season, claim the Liverpool Echo.

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Schweinsteiger has previously stated that his next destination will not be in Europe, but the opportunity to prove himself at the highest level one more time in his career may prove to good an opportunity to turn down if Everton can agree a financial package with United before he moves on permanently in the summer if no other suitors could be found in January.

Despite victory over Swansea, in which Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved their doubters wrong to combine to give the Red Devils a 3-1 win at the Liberty Stadium, Jose Mourinho explained the makeshift defence and slammed his injured players, saying:

“Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100% with his pain, Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play, so we had to build a defensive line… Daley Blind has some problems but he put himself available to be on the bench and to try to help the team, so the people that are here are people that I trust for a difficult match… In every sport – and I know because I have friends and they play at the highest level in other sports – how many times you play and you are not 100%… To compete you have to go to the limits. It’s a cultural thing for some and that’s not my culture. There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference. If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say many times they played without being 100%. For the team you have to do anything, that is my way of seeing [things].”

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The Portuguese manager clearly did not hold back in criticising Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, both of whom were left out of the England squad for fixtures against Scotland and Spain due to their injuries, but it remains to be seen how they will react.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ian Johnson.

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