Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Manchester United are ready to fast-track attempts to sign Benfica defender Victor Lindelof in January

Manchester United are ready to fast-track attempts to sign Benfica defender Victor Lindelof in January having originally planned to move for the Sweden international next summer.

Lindelof, 22, is expected to leave Benfica for United at the beginning of January with the Portuguese champions signalling their readiness to sell the player for a fee in the region of £38 million, having initially intimated that
they would not listen to offers until the end of the season.

While United are prepared to offload the likes of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin when the transfer window opens next month, sources at Old Trafford have told ESPN FC that incoming signings will only be made if long-term targets become available in January.

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Manager Jose Mourinho has made it clear to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that he wants defensive reinforcements next month due to Eric Bailly's likely six-week absence on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast.

Mourinho is also concerned about cover at centre-half, with the former Chelsea manager determined to ensure that Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and the fit-again Chris Smalling are pushed by top-level competition for places -- a situation the Portuguese believes is still lacking at the back.

Benfica's willingness to sell Lindelof has prompted United to move quickly, however, in order to capture a player regarded as one of the brightest young defenders in Europe.

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At 6-foot-2 and with the ability to carry the ball out of defence, Lindelof fits the profile set out by Mourinho for additions to his defensive options.

Should United complete a deal for Lindelof, the club are unlikely to pursue further signings in January unless other long-term targets become available.

Mourinho would like to add another striker to his squad, but he accepts that goalscorers of the calibre required by United are not likely to come onto the market next month.

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