Doubt has been cast on the supposedly certain Manchester United moves for Raphael Varane and Kieran Trippier.
Both Madrid-based defenders have long been linked with switches to Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plots to build a title-challenging squad by raiding Real and Atletico.
Manchester United are approaching the Varane negotiations particularly cautiously after difficult dealings with Spanish giants Real in the past, while Trippier is thought to be eager to return to England.
On Friday, Neil Custis of The Sun exclusively reported that deals for both players ‘are all but done’ and would be announced by the club by the end of next week.
He claimed that Varane would cost £50m and Trippier £18m, the former having ‘negotiated terms over a five-year deal’ while the latter was in ‘the final stages’ of his transfer.
But Simon Jones of the Mail on Sunday has suggested that the moves are not quite so set in stone – and that Manchester United are ‘wary of reports’ stating otherwise.
He says ‘steady progress’ is being made with regards to the Varane talks ahead of a ‘formal offer’ being made next week, but that neither personal terms nor a fee have been agreed.
The French centre-half wants to join the club but Manchester United are not willing to meet Real’s £50m valuation for a player with a single year left on his current contract, meaning there is work to be done.
Jones claims that the same problem exists with Trippier as Atletico’s price for the right-back is deemed an ‘obstacle’ despite heavy interest.
Negotiations over both Varane and Trippier are ‘not advanced’, Jones says in direct contradiction of the previous Custis claims.
It might be worth pointing out that Custis reported in August 2020 that Manchester United had ‘forced the Germans’ of Borussia Dortmund into selling Jadon Sancho. They did, just almost an entire year later.
Atletico are, however, said to have identified Norwich defender Max Aarons as the England international’s potential replacement.
The 21-year-old would be targeted in a £25m move that is entirely dependent on whether Manchester United match Atletico’s own valuation of Trippier, which is said in some quarters to be closer to £30m.