Manchester United defender target Jeremy Mathieu wants to join Barcelona, according to reports.
The 30-year-old centre back is on the wanted list of Luis Enrique, and the Spanish press claim he’s met with Valencia sporting director Francisco Rufete to ask the club to consider any bid that comes from their La Liga rivals.
TalkSPORT go on to report that the Blaugrana are ready to firm up their interest with a bid, but they will know that Mathieu won’t come cheap. The two-cap French international has a €20million plus tax, meaning a potential suitor would have to pay in the region of €36million to sign the player.
That’s a figure that is becoming very familiar to Manchester United, who are working on a deal to bring Ander Herrera to the club in the transfer window. Whilst the former Premier League champions hoped for a slightly cheaper deal, it looks like they will have to pay that same price.
And, if new Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal wants to add Mathieu to the ranks at Old Trafford, then they appear to be facing a similar situation. Throw in the interest of the Spanish giants and the player’s seeming desire to play at the Nou Camp, and it looks like an uphill battle for the current Netherlands head coach.
Van Gaal is yet to arrive at Manchester United, but already expectations are high that he will be able to turn the club’s fortunes around. After the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, former boss David Moyes failed to deliver and paid the price. Ryan Giggs then steadied the ship, but a lack of experience meant the club legend was overlooked for the position full-time.
Despite being away at the World Cup, the new manager appears to have been busy highlighting targets - with Mathieu one of them. The radio station claims he is on the Red Devils’ transfer radar, as they look to find a new centre back for next season.
Vidic & Ferdinand replacement
Nemanja Vidic ran down his contract and left for pastures new in Italy, whilst Rio Ferdinand also called time on his career with the club and has opted for Queen’s Park Rangers. That leaves two big holes for Van Gaal to immediately try and fill.
Mathieu began his career at Sochaux, but came to greater prominence when he moved to Toulouse in 2005. He spent four years with the club, before a contentious exit after turning down a new deal. Valencia were the beneficiaries on a free transfer.
A versatile defender who can also play at left back, Mathieu has gradually grown in importance at the Mestalla, and featured 43 times in all competitions for Los Che. Throw in a contract until 2017, and it’s no surprise that Valencia don’t want to sell him on the cheap.
Whether Enrique is willing to pay the required fee remains to be seen, and Marca reported earlier in the week that they would only consider paying €20million total for the player’s signature.
That’s still a hefty amount for a 30-year-old - especially one who is untested against the pace of the Premier League. That’s something Manchester United must consider if they decide to try and sign the player, and they might be better off looking elsewhere at younger options over the next few months.