Manchester United are giving serious consideration to offloading four of their five senior centre-halves next summer, and Bayern Munich’s Matthijs de Ligt is looking an increasingly gettable target, according to reports.
Man Utd’s primary issue this season has been scoring goals. Indeed, only Sheffield United (15), Burnley (21) and Crystal Palace (22) have netted fewer than United’s mark of 24.
According to the Evening Standard, a blockbuster spending spree next summer is on the cards and United hope to sign a striker the calibre of Harry Kane.
United’s outlook for arrivals this month is bleak. The club must conform to the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules and many of their exits – including Donny van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and Jadon Sancho – have been loans and not sales.
However, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25 percent stake was announced on Christmas Eve and is in line to receive final approval from the EPL by mid-February.
That will be the catalyst to a colossal summer splash and according to ESPN, centre-back is where the bulk of the action could lay.
Ratcliffe, INEOS chief Sir Dave Brailsford, United director John Murtough and manager Erik ten Hag are all looking forward to the summer window.
ESPN state ‘there have been conversations about making changes to United’s defence with players both leaving and arriving.’
Four of United’s five senior centre-backs are listed as having uncertain futures beyond the summer.
Evans, Varane out of contract; Man Utd will accept Maguire, Lindelof offers
Only Lisandro Martinez appears to be safe, with Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans all named as stars who could be pushed out.
Man Utd opted against activating the one-year option in Varane’s contract. As such, the veteran Frenchman will become a free agent at season’s end.
There has been talk of United attempting to tie Varane down to a new deal on vastly reduced terms. His £340,000-a-week wages have become increasingly difficult to justify.
Evans, 35, is also out of contract at season’s end. If United are serious about their defensive revamp, it stands to reason he won’t be offered a new deal despite doing little wrong in his second stint at Old Trafford.
Regarding Maguire, Man Utd actually accepted West Ham’s £30m bid for the England international last summer.
However, Maguire had no intention of leaving and the deal fell through when the defender refused to discuss personal terms with the Hammers.
Maguire and Lindelof are both out of contract in 2025. Maguire’s deal contains a club option for an extra year, while Lindelof’s option has already been activated.
ESPN concluded both players could be sold if ‘significant offers’ are received.
De Ligt wanted amid Bayern unhappiness
On the subject of who’d take their place, all manner of centre-back targets have been listed.
Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg recently named Lenny Yoro (Lille), Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Antonio Silva (Benfica) and Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich) as being on United’s radar.
ESPN put a three-man shortlist forward and De Ligt is the only player to match up with Plettenberg’s claims. The others listed by ESPN are Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite and Nice’s Jean Clair Todibo.
De Ligt has a connection to Ten Hag through their time together at Ajax. The Dutchman, 24, cost an initial €67m when signed from Juventus 18 months ago, but there’s growing speculation he’ll be on the move next summer.
Taking to X, Plettenberg revealed all is not well with De Ligt in Munich. He remains popular at the club, though is not totally satisfied with his standing in the team.
De Ligt is no longer a guaranteed starter under manager Thomas Tuchel who is favouring Kim Min-jae and Dayot Upamecano. What’s more, Bayern are determined to sign Barcelona’s Araujo in the off-season too.
As such, a summer switch is a distinct possibility and Plettenberg concluded De Ligt to Man Utd could well become a hot topic.