Manchester United not only have their Champions League fate in their own hands, they are also in control of their own destiny regarding one of their most intriguing transfer targets.
Drop points against Bournemouth, Chelsea and Fulham in their final three fixtures, and Liverpool might not only leapfrog Erik ten Hag’s team into fourth spot, they are also likely to steal a march in the pursuit of Brighton and Hove Albion’s World Cup winning playmaker Alexis Mac Allister.
The Argentina international, per The Athletic, is determined to join a club capable of offering Champions League football if he is to leave The Amex this summer.
So what is shaping up to be a straight fight between the two North West neighbours over the final few weeks of the season – albeit Newcastle could also be dragged into the battle – should have implications for the subsequent transfer window too.
Manchester United vs Liverpool for Alexis Mac Allister
According to TYC Sports, Liverpool are currently in pole position for Mac Allister. Talks between Jurgen Klopp’s side and the £70 million-rated playmaker have stepped up a notch in recent times.
But discount Manchester United at your peril.
By the time June rolls around, the Red Devils could conceivably have secured a Champions League spot at Liverpool’s expense, before finally – and belatedly – sorting the whole ownership situation. With things very much up in the air off the pitch – even if Sir Jim Ratcliffe does appear to have overtaken Sheikh Jassim as the frontrunner to free United from Glazer control – Ten Hag’s transfer plans have been forced to take a backseat role of late.
But, if The Times are right and that there is light at the end of a long and winding tunnel, then you can expect to see United make serious progress in their pursuit of a number of targets – a la Mac Allister, Jurrien Timber, Kim Min-Jae, potentially even Harry Kane – sooner rather than later.
‘They are really keen’
Mac Allister is one of the most complete, all-round midfielders in the Premier League. He was outstanding even before scoring a late-winner against United recently. And the 24-year-old appears the perfect addition to slot in alongside Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro; younger and more energetic than the technically-brilliant but sluggish Christian Eriksen.
And Ten Hag is confident that a year of progress has United’s targets queuing up to join. Champions League qualification will only make Old Trafford an even more tempting destination to Mac Allister and co.
“I see a big difference in comparison with last year,” Ten Hag explains. “There were a lot of reservations last year when I spoke with players. And now, many players see the project. What’s going on, the dynamic and the ambition in this project. The quality especially…
“They are really keen to come. I’ve noticed that.
“It looks like there were a lot of reservations last year, a lot of doubts when we approached players. This year, many quality players really want to come.”
Fail to secure a top-four spot, however, and it’s not just Champions League football Liverpool could snatch from under Ten Hag’s nose.