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Erik ten Hag turns to €17m Adrien Rabiot as United scramble for reinforcements


Stalled: Manchester United's hopes of signing Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong this summer look to be over

Stalled: Manchester United's hopes of signing Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong this summer look to be over

Stalled: Manchester United's hopes of signing Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong this summer look to be over

Manchester United are pushing ahead with a surprise bid for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot and are considering a move to finally sign Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as they attempt to rescue a frustrating transfer window.

A fresh offer for another Italy-based player, Marko Arnautovic, is also expected after Bologna rejected United’s initial proposal of paying €8.5 million for the 33-year-old forward who is nevertheless very keen to move to Old Trafford.

The moves for Rabiot and, potentially, Milinkovic-Savic follow the growing realisation that Frenkie de Jong, United’s top target throughout the summer, does not want to join them.

The Netherlands midfielder is intent on staying at Barcelona even though they are trying to force him out and are even suggesting his contract is not legal.

Barcelona want De Jong to sign a new deal on reduced terms and it is expected his future will be sorted out this week ahead of the deadline for La Liga’s cost controls.

Chelsea have also held talks with Barcelona over De Jong – and are interested in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – but have not received any encouragement that it is worth making a bid for the former Arsenal striker.

United’s offer of around £70 million (€83m) was effectively accepted by Barcelona but the deal has not progressed and it is clear De Jong is not interested which, if it remains the case, would be a severe blow to manager Erik ten Hag.

The pressure is already on Ten Hag after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at home by Brighton during which, tellingly, he substituted both central midfielders, Fred and Scott McTominay.

The move for Rabiot is more advanced between the clubs although, as yet, no contact has been made with his mother, Veronique, who also represents him. She will only deal directly with United’s football director, John Murtough.

Juventus want €15-20 million for the 27-year-old France international who has told the club he wants to leave and is in the last year of his contract. Juventus have agreed to his request and he does not feature in the plans of coach Max Allegri.

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As revealed in June, Rabiot wants to join a Premier League club and, ideally, one playing Champions League football. However, according to sources, if United want him he would be interested because of the club’s stature.

Raising the possibility of signing Milinkovic-Savic will have United fans rolling their eyes given the club have been linked to the Serbian for the past three years. Intermediaries believe a deal can be done for the 27-year-old even though Lazio do not want to sell but are aware of United’s renewed interest. They are considering offering Milinkovic-Savic a contract extension, with his deal expiring in 2024.

So far a price has not been set although it would likely be around £60m (€71.1m), less than De Jong’s valuation. Talks are at a very early stage as United consider whether to proceed.

With Anthony Martial injured and Cristiano Ronaldo not fully fit and wanting to leave, United have moved for Arnautovic, the former West Ham United and Stoke City forward. Although a second offer is likely to succeed, there is less confidence from some sources at United that Arnautovic will prove as successful a potential signing as Rabiot but he has previously worked with Ten Hag and his assistant Steve McClaren at Dutch club Twente. 

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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