Monday 11 December 2017

Man United close in on €30m Pedro as deal expected this week

Barcelona forward could finalise €26m move this week

Barcelona's forward Pedro Rodriguez
Barcelona's forward Pedro Rodriguez

Jason Burt

Manchester United are increasingly confident that they have finally structured a deal to sign Barcelona forward Pedro for an initial fee of €26m.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was absent from Manchester yesterday, with strong suggestions that he had travelled to Barcelona to conclude the transfer. Woodward is due back at Old Trafford today to attend a lunch with the directors of Club Brugge ahead of the Champions League play-off against the Belgian club.

It appears that United have structured a deal that reaches the €30m buy-out clause in the 28-year-old’s contract which Barcelona insisted had to be met.

The signing of Pedro will hopefully improve the mood of Louis van Gaal, who acknowledged that the tie against Club Brugge represented the most important games of his career so far as United manager. But Van Gaal was not willing to acknowledge much else.

David de Gea has returned to first-team training but Van Gaal did not want to discuss his state of mind. Wayne Rooney has struggled at centre-forward but the manager did not want to talk about why.

Van Gaal’s tetchy mood, not unusual in itself, was probably not enhanced by the press conference which preceded his press conference – that of Sergio Ramos, who has signed a bumper new deal at Real Madrid after using United’s interest in him as leverage.

The 29-year-old World Cup winner had been linked with a move to United for most of the summer but has now committed to Madrid by penning a contract until 2020.

Ramos has also been made the club captain following Iker Casillas’ departure, and announcing his new deal alongside Real president Florentino Perez, the three-time Primera Division winner said he was never looking to leave the Bernabeu.

“I know this renewal has taken a while but my heart and head have always been with Real Madrid so I couldn’t be happier,” he said in a press conference.

“I’ve never spoken about my renewal. With a contract that had two years to go, whatever the press want to say I respect but the reality is a bit different.

“My idea was to always be here and I always wanted to retire here if the president would allow it, and I’m thankful I have a new challenge to be the captain of this team. The priority is always Real Madrid, keeping our fans happy and winning titles.

“I’m being honest I never said I wanted to leave, I was quiet. I never said anything out of respect for my team-mates and the president, I never rang the office to ask for more money. I’m just very happy that I have renewed and I want to stay here for the rest of my career.”

The man Madrid want to replace Casillas, meanwhile, trained yesterday with the United first team. De Gea returned to the fold at the weekend, after not being asked to prepare for United’s match at Villa last Friday. But he is not expected to be involved against Brugge, or with the first team again until the transfer window has closed.

The questions will be a lot harder should United fail to overcome Brugge, who are coached by Michel Preud’homme. They have already played six competitive matches this season but are struggling with players out injured.

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