United eye Juve star... and Mar­tial could go other way

BRAZIL­IAN IS REDS’ TOP TAR­GET FOR LEFT-BACK ROLE

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - By JAMES ROB­SON

UNITED’S move for Alex San­dro has opened to door for An­thony Mar­tial to leave Old Traf­ford.

Jose Mour­inho is keen to land Ju­ven­tus’ left-back this sum­mer, with sources in Italy claim­ing a deal could be fi­nalised im­mi­nently.

And Serie A cham­pi­ons Juve have used talks over the Brazil­ian as an op­por­tu­nity to step up their own in­ter­est in Mar­tial.

While a swap deal is un­likely, the Ital­ian giants have made it clear they want United’s out-of-favour for­ward.

Mar­tial has be­come a pe­riph­eral fig­ure since the Jan­uary ar­rival of Alexis Sanchez. And while United’s hi­er­ar­chy want to keep hold of the French in­ter­na­tional, his fail­ure to es­tab­lish him­self un­der Mour­inho could drive him to­wards the exit.

He is yet to sign an ex­ten­sion to his con­tract, de­spite the Reds be­ing will­ing to open talks – and knows he has suit­ors across Europe as well as the Premier League.

United are ex­pected to pay in the re­gion of £50m for San­dro, who could be­come Mour­inho’s first sign­ing of a busy sum­mer.

But they would want sig­nif­i­cantly more than that for Mar­tial, who cost an ini­tial £36m when he signed from Monaco in 2015.

The rapid in­fla­tion in trans­fer fees since then would see United ex­pect to re­ceive in ex­cess of £60m for a player still con­sid­ered one of the foot­ball’s bright­est prospects.

Mar­tial still has an­other year on his deal, with United main­tain­ing an op­tion to ex­tend by a fur­ther 12 months. That gives them some room to ma­noeu­vre but the player’s own con­cerns about his po­si­tion at the club could prove piv­otal.

THE new year seem­ingly arrived with a new res­o­lu­tion for Jose Mour­inho as he started Luke Shaw, who had to wait until De­cem­ber for his first ap­pear­ance in the XI, in five suc­ces­sive do­mes­tic games.

United kept clean sheets in four of them and it emerged their in­ter­est in a left-back had sub­sided amid Shaw’s win­ter resur­gence. Mour­inho also trig­gered the oneyear ex­ten­sion in Shaw’s con­tract in Jan­uary to ward off in­ter­est from New­cas­tle.

Shaw earned three of those starts through Ash­ley Young’s three-match sus­pen­sion for el­bow­ing Du­san Tadic on Jan­uary 30. Once Young was avail­able for se­lec­tion at Burn­ley, he re­gained his place and Shaw was re­stricted to just three more league starts in the fi­nal months.

The Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow was still let­ting a draught in when it tran­spired Shaw had not en­tirely earned Mour­inho’s trust and five months be­fore the sum­mer win­dow United set­tled on Ju­ven­tus’ Alex San­dro as their pre­ferred left­back tar­get.

Shaw’s fail­ure to oust Young – 10 years his se­nior – and the fall-out from his half-time sub­sti­tu­tion against Brighton in March have con­vinced United to pri­ori­tise sign­ing San­dro.

“Jose prefers him to Rose,” a Mour­inho con­fi­dant said in Jan­uary.

The Reds had mon­i­tored Danny Rose’s sit­u­a­tion at Tot­ten­ham since the sum­mer and the Eng­land in­ter­na­tional would still walk to Manch­ester to join the Reds.

Rose and San­dro are both 27 but the Brazil­ian has played al­most twice as many matches as the Spurs full-back this term. Rose missed four-and-a-half months of the campaign through in­jury. Tot­ten­ham coach Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino has also favoured Ben Davies, who started 26 of their 38 league fix­tures. On half-a-dozen oc­ca­sions, Rose was fit but omit­ted from the league squad al­to­gether and Po­chet­tino was said to be sus­pi­cious that Rose was in di­a­logue with United, which was never proven. Rose did not make the bench for the FA Cup semi-fi­nal last month and could be seen solemnly skulk­ing around Wem­b­ley. San­dro, in con­trast, lined up in all 10 of Ju­ven­tus’ Cham­pi­ons League ties and 22 of their Serie A encounters. He was dropped for the Coppa Italia fi­nal against Roma ear­lier this month amid un­cer­tainty over his fu­ture and failed to make Brazil’s World Cup squad on Mon­day, de­spite first-choice left­back Filipe Luis suc­cumb­ing to in­jury in March. Those setbacks have not de­terred Mour­inho and United have not in­ter­vened since a Premier League club be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions with Celtic young­ster Kieran Tier­ney, who was ex­ten­sively scouted by Mour­inho’s staff.

Shaw’s fail­ure to oust Young have con­vinced United to pri­ori­tise sign­ing San­dro Sa­muel Luck­hurst

Alex San­dro is wanted by United

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