Messi provides Man Utd transfer boost but French football expert warns midfielder is ‘not quite ready’

Joe Williams
Man Utd target Manu Kone watches play

Lionel Messi’s contract situation at Paris Saint-Germain could see Man Utd steal a march in the race to sign Manu Kone, according to French football expert Jonathan Johnson.

With rumours that Scott McTominay and others could leave Old Trafford in the summer transfer window, the Red Devils are on the lookout for a midfielder to improve their squad depth.

Erik ten Hag has guided Man Utd to third in the Premier League, with 12 games to play, and a League Cup trophy, while he still has a chance of more silverware in the FA Cup and Europa League.

And he will be hoping to get the funds to improve his squad in the summer with Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Kone linked to Man Utd.

There has been speculation that Ligue 1 giants PSG could move for €50m-rated Kone too but Johnson reckons the contract situations surrounding Messi and Sergio Ramos gives Man Utd the advantage.

Johnson told Caught Offside: “Manu Kone is a fine young player who’s making the headlines a bit more recently, with links to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.

“In terms of rumoured interest from PSG, however, it’s hard to see them having a major overhaul of their squad this summer and being able to pay the kind of money that would be needed for a signing like Kone.

“He’s obviously a very talented young French footballer and it makes sense that he’d be of interest to PSG, especially as he’s on the verge of breaking through internationally as well.

“Still, as long as the contract situations of Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi remain unresolved ahead of the summer, it’s hard to see PSG winning the race for Kone, and it’s difficult to see them doing much else with their squad.

“He’ll likely have other big clubs watching him from across Europe, and it’s not a big surprise to see him succeed on what is becoming quite a well-trodden path, having moved to Germany from Toulouse.

“He now definitely seems like a player who could be on the move this summer, with a number of big clubs likely to show an interest. I think PSG would be the only ones who could bring him back to Ligue 1, but there are plenty of other big teams looking for midfielders.

“Manchester United seem to be one of those, having been linked with both Kone and Enzo Le Fee, who plays for Lorient and is another impressive talent who I expect to be of interest to a number of big clubs right now.

“There’ll be the temptation to draw comparisons with someone like Aurelien Tchouameni, who made the big move from Monaco to Real Madrid last year, but to be honest I don’t see Kone being ready to make quite that same jump right now.

“That’s no disrespect to Kone or the level at Borussia Monchengladbach, but he’s not quite where Tchouameni was with Monaco when he then made the move to Madrid.

“Still, that’s not to say there won’t be big clubs interested in him. We know Chelsea are targeting the talents of tomorrow, so to speak, so he could appeal to them.

“Gladbach also seem to be coming to end of a cycle, and are facing losing Marcus Thuram for nothing, so they’ll need to bring in some money from somewhere else, so Kone seems a logical choice given the clubs looking at him at this moment in time.

“Still, my personal opinion is that he’s not quite ready to join the European elite like Tchouameni was, but that could also mean Chelsea is a logical next step for him because if you look at how their season is going, Champions League qualification looks unlikely, so it could be the right sort of project for him to start with.”

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