Manchester United are locked in talks with AS Monaco over a possible deal for Brazilian right-back Fabinho, having switched targets after being snubbed by Dani Alves.
It was reported repeatedly last month that the Red Devils were hot on the heels of Alves, who didn’t look like he was going to be handed an extension to his Barcelona contract.
Alves a no-go
However following the Champions League final it was announced that the 32-year-old full-back will remain at the Nou Camp for at least another two years, meaning Louis van Gaal has had to change targets quickly.
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The man he’s now said to be close to landing is Fabinho - as Goal relays - who only recently joined Monaco permanently after impressing on loan from Rio Ave. The 21-year-old isn’t half as experienced as Alves but is developing quite the reputation in France and as he’s only valued at £15million he’s a cheap option.
Van Gaal is believed to have a large financial budget behind him for his second summer in charge at Old Trafford, with Adidas’ new kit sponsorship deal kicking into effect and handing the club around £750m over the next few years.
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Van Gaal's priority
Chief amongst Van Gaal’s objectives is solidifying a defence that looked precariously weak last season, and though improving the central areas will obviously be more conducive to getting better results, the Dutchman’s system demands good players on either flank.
At the moment Van Gaal has Antonio Valencia and Rafael da Silva to pick from in the right-back slot, but neither of them appear to have impressed him in the way certain others have in the squad.
Valencia is naturally a more attacking player all told so the arrival of another full-back might not jeopardise his claim for a starting XI position, although Rafael’s future will be thrown into doubt if a deal for Fabinho can be orchestrated successfully.
Fabinho sure to accept
For the Brazilian himself the news that United are interested in his services will surely be welcomed with a smile. The step up from Rio Ave to Monaco was a good move for his career but following that up with a switch to the Premier League - and a club as steeped in glory as United are - will mark the realisation that he could be destined for big things.
It’s likely that he will need at least a year to adapt to the rigours of the English game, and even then it could be a few seasons before his potential as an alternative to the ready-made Alves is harnessed.
At £15m though he might prove to be an absolute steal, and if reports from France are on point United are fairly close to agreeing a deal.
United fans, do you think Van Gaal needs to purchase a new right-back? Should he place his faith in Valencia and Rafael? Let us know in the comments box below.