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Report: Man United feel Hojlund and Mainoo will benefit from signing £34m and £51m duo

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Manchester United, after months of negotiations, are finally expected to confirm Dan Ashworth’s arrival as the club’s new sporting director after agreeing a deal with Newcastle.

And, as far as the club’s transfer plans are concerned, this is a massive step in the right direction.

Dan Ashworth, the man who played a major role in Brighton’s emergence as something of a model club and also helped transform Newcastle from relegation candidates to Champions League chasers, is perhaps the biggest coup of the Ineos era so far.

Now, with Ashworth set to join Omar Berrada, Jason Wilcox and co in a much-changed behind-the-scenes set-up, extra focus can now be placed on the transfer market.

Namely, getting the players through the door capable of transforming a side who finished a dismal eighth place in 2023/24, with Ashworth’s long-awaited arrival ensuring that things should go a lot smoother.

Manuel Ugarte of Uruguay poses during the official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 portrait session on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Photo by Pat Elmont – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Manchester United can now step up transfer plans

At least one top-level centre-half is required.

The good news, then, is that Manchester United are also in positive discussions with Bayern Munich over Matthijs de Ligt. De Telegraaf’s Mike Verweij reports that United have offered the Dutch international a five-year deal after he held talks with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag.

Joshua Zirkzee’s £34 million release clause, meanwhile, becomes active today.

The iNews report that Man United see Zirkzee as the ‘perfect fit’ to ease the burden on Rasmus Hojlund. If the latter is a physical, throwback number nine, then Zirkzee is something a little more modern.

Somewhere between a nine and a ten, the mercurial Dutchman would give Man United a completely different dimension in the final third with his ability to drop deep and allow runners – such as Marcus Rashford and the similarly jet-heeled Alejandro Garnacho – to race in behind.

There is a reason he has been described as a forward ‘much more technical‘ than the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The iNews add that Man United see Manuel Ugarte as a potentially ideal partner for Kobbie Mainoo in the centre of the park.

Ugarte appears to have emerged rather rapidly as the Red Devils’ top target to fill the Casemiro role at the base of Ten Hag’s midfield.

Manuel Ugarte wanted from Paris Saint-Germain

The Uruguayan ankle-biter is not the most expansive of footballers. But there is certainly a role in this United side for a highly-energetic, highly-tenacious ball winner who wreaks havoc off the ball but keeps things simple on it.

You won’t see quite so many shanked, Casemiro-style hospital passes from him.

The report explains that United see Mainoo as a box-to-box number eight. The elegant Englishman burst onto the scene as a string-pulling, deep-lying playmaker last term. After Christmas, however, the more creative aspects of Mainoo’s game came to the fore.

If that FA Cup winner against Manchester City is anything to go by, a player of Mainoo’s talents in the final third would perhaps be wasted in a restrictive, defence-first role.

The iNews say that United should make a ‘concrete offer’ for Ugarte soon.

Fabrizio Romano, via his official X account, wrote that Man United held a further round of discussions with Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

Ugarte, who set the French champions back £51 million when he joined from Sporting Lisbon in 2023, is understood to be keen on a fresh start at Old Trafford after falling behind Vitinha and Warren Zaire-Emery at the Parc des Princes.

🚨🔴 Manchester United and PSG have been in touch again in the recent hours for Manuel Ugarte.

Ugarte has interest also from other clubs, PSG are open to selling him this summer and he’s expected to leave.

He’d be open to joining United even without UCL. Still no formal bid. pic.twitter.com/k0NW9shDmq

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 28, 2024

  • READ MORE: Who is Kobbie Mainoo? Inside the life of Man Utd’s rising star, including his parents, brother and school

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