When reports emerged on Monday suggesting that Manchester United had agreed personal terms with Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat – via La Nazione – the response from many Red Devils supporters was less one of excitement and more one of scepticism.
After all, with a new goalkeeper and a number nine jostling for position at the top of Erik ten Hag’s wishlist – and with just £120 million to spend as things stand – just where was the room in Manchester United’s budget for the £35 million-rated Sofyan Amrabat?
Put simply, it doesn’t exist. Or, at least, not as things stand.
Manchester United playing waiting game over Sofyan Amrabat
The Mirror, while not going quiet as far as La Nazione, insist that Amrabat is still of ‘interest’ to Manchester United. The Manchester Evening News, meanwhile, provide further credence. They argue that the addition of another central midfielder to join Mason Mount at Old Trafford cannot be ruled out.
With £55 million spent on Mount, and with Onana expected to cost in excess of £40 million, United are under pressure to sell before they can even think about sitting down at the table with Fiorentina. Mount and Onana, after all, would eat up all but £20 million of Ten Hag’s budget.
Amrabat, one of the stars of the 2022 World Cup, would realistically only arrive if United can sell Fred and/or Scott McTominay before the September deadline. Donny Van de Beek and Hannibal Mejbri are two more who’s departures could free up funds.
What we do know for certain is that Ten Hag is an admirer of Amrabat; a ‘world-class’ ball-winner who can do much of what Moises Caicedo can do but for a fraction of the price, and a potentially excellent understudy for the ageing Casemiro.
Ten Hag spoke in glowing terms about the Morocco international during their time together at FC Utrecht.
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“I had doubts,” Ten Hag told BD back in 2017 after Amrabat sealed a move from Utrecht to Feyenoord. “Has he chosen the right moment? Is he ready now? You can never really predict that.
“The fact that Amrabat moves to De Kuip can be explained. Souf is composed, unyielding. That is an additional quality. He will and must play, even if he has to go over five walls or through five walls. (He will play) even if he has to fight for it, for weeks or months.
“Now he’s at Feyenoord, you see that the extra resilience he has to give an impulse to his game.”
Watch this space
For now, however, United have little choice but to play the waiting game. Amrabat, like Romeo Lavia, Alex Disasi and all of their other of their ‘non-striker’ and ‘non-goalkeeper targets’, may be re-visited later in the window, when United hopefully have more funds to play with following a series of sales and – touch wood – confirmation of a Sir Jim Ratcliffe or Sheikh Jassim-lead takeover.
La Nazione may have jumped the gun somewhat. Like many Italian-based publications did when suggesting around a month ago that Kim Min-Jae’s move to Old Trafford was a ‘done deal’.
But that does not mean Amrabat will not be running through brick walls for Ten Hag again soon. It’s just that this is a deal reliant upon dominoes falling elsewhere.