Manchester United are poised to make a stunning move to acquire the services of Chelsea target Nicolas Otamendi in January, as Louis van Gaal sees him as an ideal candidate to fix his defensive woes.
According to French newspaper Le 10 Sport, which cites Spanish source Superdeporte, Otamendi finds himself a new name on Van Gaal’s wish-list, with £40 million said to be the required fee to activate the release clause embedded in his contract with Valencia.
The Argentina international made a switch to the Mestalla from Porto last February, despite having been on the radar of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Now, though only having played four times for the La Liga outfit this season, he’s already being linked with a January exit, with Van Gaal facing increasing pressure to improve his back-line.
The pressure on United
Over £150 million was spent by United on new recruits this summer, but last weekend’s shock 5-3 defeat at the hands of Leicester City has left fans and critics alike questioning whether or not Van Gaal’s team will truly be able to compete in the Premier League whilst the likes of Jonny Evans and Tyler Blackett remain first-choice defensive options.
Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria may have dramatically improved the Red Devils’ attack, but Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo were the only two defenders purchased as part of the summer spree, and it could be said that the position most suited to both players is that of left wingback.
Without criticising Van Gaal too much it looks as though United are paying for their inability to land a strong central-defensive figure. Mats Hummels and Mehdi Benatia were both mentioned as targets at different stages of the summer but neither ended up coming close to an Old Trafford move.
As such a space remains which potentially has Otamendi’s name on it. The 26-year-old is considered an important asset by Valencia, but the La Liga outfit could re-think their strategy if a large enough offer is submitted.
It’s said that United are willing to forego the chance of the player’s club being an obstacle altogether, by activating the release clause in his contract, despite the fact it stands at a hefty £40 million. Van Gaal is set to be handed plenty more cash to spend in the next window, in order to bring the current setup up to speed with his ambitions, and other lucrative moves have been mooted as being possible.
Gerard Pique and Kevin Strootman are just two players who are believed to be on Van Gaal’s shortlist, with Juventus star Arturo Vidal inevitably finding his name included in the transfer speculation.