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Man Utd could hand Pep Guardiola a transfer blow by landing star Man City 'couldn't afford'

Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
 2021-07-22

Unlike in previous windows, Manchester United appear determined to get the majority of their transfer business done and dusted well before the Premier League season kicks off.

A deal for Jadon Sancho has been ‘agreed in principle’ with everything but the announcement believed to be completed.

There are also in advanced negotiations to land Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane, finally providing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the kind of defence that title winners are built on.

But he won't stop there. Following their Europa League final defeat to Villarreal in Gdansk, Solskjaer confirmed United would be looking for at least two or three players to come into the starting XI.

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Ruben Neves has emerged as a potential target for Manchester United

"We've probably done as well as anyone could imagine,” he said at the end of last season. “But as I said, two or three players to strengthen the starting XI and the squad all together is important for us to go even further.

“I'm sure our contenders or challengers will also want to improve and we want to improve as much as we can."

Bruno Fernandes is also aware how much the team needs to improve after finishing 12 points behind the eventual champions Manchester City.

According to the Sun, the United talisman wanted to see a new centre-back and a new defensive midfielder arrive.

And Wolves star Ruben Neves appears to fit the bill with talkSPORT reporting that Fernandes is pushing his compatriot towards Old Trafford.

Wolves are said to value the 24-year-old at around £35million, although it is likely that fee could be closer to £50m with the club in a strong position in terms of his contract.

It’s not the first time Neves has been linked with one of the so-called ‘big-six’ with speculation going all the way back to his FC Porto days.

Then in the Championship, Wolves stunned neutrals by landing a player that has been tipped the top right from his debut.

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Pep Guardiola hinted Man City were not willing to pay the kind of fee Wolves are chasing (Image: PA)

Since their promotion to the top-flight in 2018, those links have persisted thanks to his consistently impressive performances in the heart of midfield.

In 2019, City were rumoured to be monitoring his situation, only for Pep Guardiola to suggest the club couldn’t afford him.

“He’s an excellent player but there are many clubs in the world, many holding midfielders in the world, and most of them can play here. That’s not the point,” he explained.

“Most of them are under contracts. A month ago, I started reading – ‘Ruben Neves, £100m’.

“That is not going to happen, we are not going to pay £100m for a holding midfielder. Of course, in all departments in the club, we have in every position four or five or six options – depending on age, what we believe and, of course, the price.”

There is a growing sentiment that Solskjaer could break the ‘McFred’ partnership between Scott McTominay and Fred and the type of midfield player he replaces them with will say a lot about their direction.

A move for Neves would not only please Fernandes, it could signal a new direction for the team - and serve a blow to Man City at the same time.

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