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Tuesday, 18 January 2022 06:27

Man United eyeing up Aston Villa star to add steel to midfield

Manchester United have shortlisted Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn as a potential signing next summer, when the club hope to have deals lined up in tandem with the arrival of a new manager.

United are searching for a long-term replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at a time when there is uncertainty over the futures of a host of players and major surgery required to a squad which has woefully underperformed this season.

Midfield is viewed as a priority area to address this summer and McGinn has emerged as one of the options under consideration.

The Scotland international is admired by compatriot Darren Fletcher, who became technical director in March, and any deal with Villa would hinge on McGinn’s contract situation if United press ahead.

McGinn (27) will have two years to run on his contract in the summer and this will be the last summer the club can get a big fee if he chooses not to agree a new deal.

The expectation is that a new contract will be offered to McGinn, who is not the highest earner at Villa. He missed Saturday’s 2-2 draw against United through suspension. His emergence as a dressing-room leader in the Villa team, and with Scotland, has caught the eye of Fletcher and Alex Ferguson, a long-time admirer. McGinn’s profile as a dominant midfielder with leadership qualities appeals to United.

United have a long-standing interest in McGinn and considered trying to sign him last summer but other positions were prioritised.

Even with two years remaining on his contract, McGinn’s value would be around £40 million (€48m).

United held a recruitment meeting the week before last attended by football director John Murtough in addition to incoming chief executive Richard Arnold, Ed Woodward, who steps down as executive vice-chairman at the end of the month, and interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

 Rangnick is due to commence a consultancy role with the club from the summer, when he makes way for a new permanent manager.

United have been working on summer transfer targets since the last window closed at the end of August and this is the time of the year when they traditionally begin to narrow their list of targets and solidify interest.

Midfielders Paul Pogba – who returned to training this week after being out since early November with a thigh injury – Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are out of contract at the end of the season along with striker Edinson Cavani. A number of other players could leave in the search for regular football. Donny van de Beek, Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic all face uncertain futures.

United have a long-standing interest in Jude Bellingham, whom they tried to sign in 2020 only for the 18-year-old England midfielder to opt to join Borussia Dortmund instead. But there is little expectation of Bellingham being permitted to leave Dortmund this year should the German club sanction the sale of their star striker Erling Haaland.

United are one of the clubs who could afford West Ham’s £100 million (€120m) valuation of Declan Rice but Manchester City hold a strong interest along with Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Rangnick has held clear-the-air talks with Anthony Martial after the France striker rejected the manager’s claim that he “did not want” to be part of the squad for the Villa match at the weekend. The situation has been put down to a case of “crossed wires” and Rangnick is said to be open to rebuilding their relationship.


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