Manchester United and Chelsea moved ahead of other suitors in the race to sign highly-rated Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, after it was revealed that the France international reportedly told friends that he wants to play for one of those two clubs.
The 23-year-old has found himself on the radar at a host of top European sides this summer thanks to his impressive performances in the Primera Liga, but it now appears that he has a clear idea of where he wants to be plying his trade next season. The Daily Express claim that the long-time Manchester City target isn’t keen on a move to the Etihad Stadium, and instead would prefer to make a switch to one of their bitter Premier League rivals. A report today states that the young defender has already told friends that he is keen to join up with either Jose Mourinho or Louis van Gaal.
The news will undoubtedly come as a welcome boost to United fans, who have yet again been forced to watch on as the bulk of their transfer targets rule out moves to Old Trafford. The price-tag on Mangala, said to make him worth around £35million, is unlikely to be a stumbling block, although it remains to be seen whether or not Van Gaal would trust someone so inexperienced at the heart of his defence. The Dutchman knows he has to improve his back line, but the fact that Mangala is relatively untested outside of Portugal leaves plenty of room for misjudgement in his abilities.
COMPETITION FOR HIS SIGNATURE
The race to sign Mangala was never going to be a straightforward one, with reports changing in nature each passing week, but even he must be surprised with the level of interest being shown in his services. It appears that Atletico Madrid have now made his a priority signing as they look to find an adequate replacement for the potentially outbound Miranda, and Manuel Pellegrini is sure to resume a pursuit he left in January when City almost successfully took the France international to Manchester.
There’s no questioning Mangala’s potential as a top player, but concerns remain over his ability to adapt to the Premier League. His tall frame would indicate that he can dominate in the air, and rave reports from both France and Portugal reveal glowing recommendations on his technical ability. However the English top flight is notorious for breaking continental stars, and a move to somewhere like United would see immense pressure heaped on his shoulders. For £35million you would expect an established centre-back with the experience of someone like Mats Hummels, and so Van Gaal and Mourinho may not opt to take the risk.