United eye Juve star... and Martial could go other way
BRAZILIAN IS REDS’ TOP TARGET FOR LEFT-BACK ROLE
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