Raphael Varane relishing Manchester United challenge
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With Leeds United set to enter negotiations with Kalvin Phillips over a new contract, Manchester United’s search for a new defensive midfielder will have to stretch further. It has been reported by the Daily Star that Phillips is set to be offered a bumper new deal to commit his future at Elland Road.
United were reported to have expressed a firm interest in the England men’s senior player of the year, so the news will have been a huge setback for the club.
It is well documented the Red Devils have been scouring the Premier League and the rest of Europe for a new commanding central defensive midfielder who can protect the back-four and allow their creative players to shine.
Declan Rice was also an option, however, ESPN report United officials are reportedly not fully convinced by all of his attributes, particularly when he is valued at a hefty £80million by the Hammers.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will likely have to expand their search elsewhere, and with this in mind, Daily Express Sport has taken a look at three alternative options to Phillips and Rice.
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The experienced Croatian was the defensive midfield foundations of Inter Milan’s first Serie A title in ten years last season.
At 28-years-old, Brozovic is entering his prime years and it could be the perfect time for him to move to the Premier League.
Brozovic could also be available on a free transfer next summer, as his contract at the San Siro expires on June 30th 2022.
He could either be the reassuring partner to Paul Pogba in United’s midfield pivot, or he could sit in-between Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in a midfield three.
Either way, he would be an outstanding, and perhaps, cost-effective signing for United who will also likely be eying up other expensive deals next season.
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After a frustrating beginning to the season when he caught Coronavirus, Joao Palhinha established himself as one of the key components in Sporting Lisbon’s first league title since 2002.
The classy Portuguese star has proven himself to not only be adept as a deeper lying defensive midfielder, but he has also filled in at centre-half when called upon.
His form last season also saw him break into the Portuguese national team where he made two appearances in Euro 2020.
At 26 years-old he has plenty of time ahead of him to improve even more, but he also has the experience and the quality to slide into the defensive midfield position for United.
While his £54m release clause is still relatively substantial, he would be a lot cheaper than many Premier League options such as Rice.
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Teun Koopmeiners was signed by Atalanta this summer after a spectacular season for AZ Alkmaar where he contributed 15 goals and five assists in 31 appearances in the Eredivisie.
The Dutchman was recently given his international debut for the Netherlands in the last international break, and he has started two Atalanta’s first four Serie A matches.
Koopmeiners was linked with Liverpool during the summer, with Jurgen Klopp’s side reportedly viewing him as a potential replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum.
Having also made 46 appearances as a central defender, Koopmeiners also carries the same defensive nous and awareness to make him a strong defensive midfielder.
United’s have been criticised for being too easy to play through in the midfield, and Koopmeiner’s defensive instincts would make him a great protector in front of the back four.
Transfermarkt value him at around £15m, and at 23-years-old, he could be a very astute piece of business.
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