Manchester United don’t dip into January’s transfer market often. Over the years, the club has frequently been content to do the majority of their business in the summer, with a few notable exceptions. Such was the malaise and discontent that surrounded David Moyes’ one and only season in charge in 2013/14 that United spent £37m on Chelsea’s Juan Mata. The Spaniard became an instant fan favourite, but couldn’t stop United’s slide that term as the club finished 7th in the Premier League, with Moyes sacked as a result.
Other notable inclusions onto the list are Henrik Larsson, with the former-Celtic striker signed on a short-term loan deal and notching three goals in early 2007, whilst Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic were both signed at the start of 2006. The Frenchman and Serbian struggled to adapt to English football initially, but were integral to United’s re-emergence as a force both domestically and on the continent, and played a huge part of the team that won three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Expectations for the man deemed to be United’s next January transfer aren’t particularly high, given his identity, but that hasn’t stopped the club’s fans interest being piqued. Sport Witness, via Portuguese outlet O Jogo are reporting that a deal to bring Benfica’s Victor Lindelof to the club is ‘pretty much done’. The price, originally thought to be around €45m, is well within United’s budget and the report states that O Jogo are treating the deal as done and dusted.
Manchester United fans will be wary of such confident reporting, of course, after seeing Renato Sanches move to Bayern Munich from the same club earlier this year despite many reports stating that he was bound for Old Trafford.
It’s a lot of money for a 22-year old without experience in a ‘top’ European league, but the reality is that Benfica are exceptionally good at developing young, talented players, and often sell them for a premium. If United are this keen to seal a deal for the young Swedish international, you can bet that several of Europe’s top clubs have expressed more than an interest in gaining Lindelof’s services, too.
Jose Mourinho will likely be happy. Lindelof can play at centre-back and right-back, meaning he has another option in both positions. With Eric Bailly heading off for African Cup of Nations’ duty next month with Ivory Coast, and doubts persisting over Chris Smalling’s suitability, having another centre-back on the club’s book will bring comfort to the Portuguese.