Agent confirmed interest: Man Utd in three-way tussle to sign €25m midfielder
Manchester United are engaged in a three-way Premier League battle to secure the signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko.
The France under-21 international has been identified by Jose Mourinho as his preferred option to strengthen the centre of Manchester United ‘s midfield in the current transfer window.
Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte are also admirers of the powerful 22-year-old, who has rapidly established himself as one of the most talented holding midfielders in the European game.
Such is the degree of interest in Bakayoko that AS Monaco are understood to have reconsidered their position that the player would not be sold this January.
The principality club, which completed the opening half of the French season second in Ligue 1 and has been drawn against Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16, value Bakayoko at a minimum of €25million.
Monaco have sold well in recent years, exploiting competing interest in Anthony Martial to secure a potential record fee of €80m from United for Bakayoko’s compatriot.
Speaking in October Bakayoko’s agent, Michel Boli, revealed other clubs – including United – were in the running for his services.
“Juventus saw him play three times this summer,” Boli told Get French Football.
“There’s also interest from Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City.
“Leicester City contacted us very recently. Tiemoue’s priority is to stay at Monaco.”
Mourinho is working on a medium-term plan to rebuild United’s squad into one capable of competing at the top table of the European game by adding four or five high-quality acquisitions.
He expects the signings to be staggered over at least two transfer windows, prioritising a central defender and a new “number six” this January.
A €6m buy from Stade Rennais three summers ago, Bakayoko established himself in Monaco’s first team last season.
Strong in the tackle, comfortable in possession and an able passer of the ball, the 1m84 midfielder possesses a playing style comparable to Nemanja Matic, a key Mourinho addition to the last of his three Chelsea title winning sides.
To create space in his squad for Bakayoko, the Old Trafford manager is ready to sanction the exit of Morgan Schneiderlin, who has attracted bids from both West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
United will also listen to offers for headline Louis van Gaal signings Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger; though the former Germany international is again resisting a move.
At centre back, Mourinho has been trying to bring Sweden international Victor Lindelof in from Benfica. Although initial discussions with the Portuguese champions failed to deliver agreement on a fee, Benfica have now resolved a dispute with the defender’s former club Vasteras over a sell-on clause, increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Lindelof’s passing ability would improve United’s capacity for building play from their defensive line – and broaden the manager’s options for a congested January fixture list.
Mourinho will be without summer signing Eric Bailly until the Ivorian returns from Africa Cup of Nations duty and yesterday lost Marcos Rojo 19 minutes into a 4-0 FA Cup victory over Reading.
United have also targeted Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez as potential summer recruits. The Atletico Madrid forward and midfielder are tied to contracts containing release clauses totalling €170m.