Few Manchester United fans went into this summer thinking midfield would be the key focus for strengthening. And yet, following Donny van de Beek’s arrival, reports have emerged that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed with a move for Sandro Tonali.
Brescia president Massimo Cellino told Top Calcio 24 that United bid for the 20-year-old last month.
“These figure are correct but we turned down 65m euros from Barcelona in January and about a dozen days ago Manchester United had offered 10m euros more than Milan,” Cellino said in quotes reported by Goal.com.
The Manchester Evening News was quick to run a counter-report, claiming United had denied Cellino’s comments.
But the truth could lie somewhere in between.
After all, United have been linked with Tonali for a while and he is one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t interested, why on earth not?
With Cellino claiming United offered £30.8million – around £8.8million more than AC Milan’s total bid (factoring in an initial loan fee and a pre-arranged purchase price) – the amount also makes sense.
Gone are the days of United paying huge sums for all but the very best. Donny van de Beek’s arrival showed there is plenty of value to be had if clubs move away from the Premier League for targets.
United will not want to lose face by acknowledging missing out on Tonali…or anyone else for that matter. Rarely does a club come out and say, ‘Yes, we bid more but lost out anyway.”
So United denying the claims to the MEN may not be as emphatic as they seem.
Whatever the case, United are likely to have scouted Tonali, and it is interesting that shortly after their alleged failed bid, talk turned (back) to Thiago Alcantara.
Have United moved on to Spanish maestro?
Tonali is predominantly a holding midfielder who is widely regarded as one of Italy’s shining lights. He does most of his best work further back, although he is still young and provided seven assists last season.
If Cellino is to be believed, it is interesting that United moved for him this summer. And it is another sign that those Thiago rumours may not simply be a case of one club trying to force another’s hand.
According to Bild, United have entered the race for the £26million Spaniard. And the timing makes sense if they recently missed out on Tonali.
While Thiago is approaching his thirties, he would be a fine addition to this United side. He would also cost a bargain fee in today’s inflated market.
Thiago would complete a United midfield that already looks among the best in Europe. Competition for places would breed improved form and Solskjaer could realistically challenge both at home and in Europe.
Whatever the truth regarding Tonali, it is telling that, so soon after he opted to stay in his homeland, United and Thiago once again find themselves linked.
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