Ralf Rangnick is close to completing his first signing as Manchester United manager, with midfielder Amadou Haidara likely to move to Old Trafford in January as along as one condition is overcome.
The Red Devils confirmed the appointment of the German as interim manager last Monday morning. The 63-year-old will be in charge until the end of the season before the club then appoints a new permanent boss and Rangnick moves upstairs.
The former RB Leipzig chief watched on from the stands as United beat Arsenal on Thursday night. However, he will be in charge for the first time in Sunday’s clash with Crystal Palace.
In terms of his current squad, the 63-year-old is expected to strengthen in the New Year. But he is not expected to spend heavily.
And The Sun claims that the identity of his first addition will be Haidara. But that is only if United are willing to pay £32million next month.
The Leipzig midfielder has a release clause in his current contract that comes into effect in the summer. However, it’s reported in Metro that his dream is to move to the Premier League, and if United can match Leipzig’s demands then that could happen six months earlier than planned.
Rangnick knows Haidara well
Rangnick took the dynamic midfielder with him to Leipzig from Salzburg two years ago. And the report claims that he is already said to have spoken with the player’s agent, Volker Struth, and a deal is all but agreed.
However, one barrier remains in the shape of the African Nations Cup – with Haidara set to represent Mali.
United must decide if they want to sign a player in January who will miss most of the month due to the tournament and could need a mini-break straight after.
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Owen predicts Man Utd flaw to remain
Meanwhile, Michael Owen has predicted exactly what will happen in Manchester United’s first match with Rangnick in charge.
Speaking ahead of the game against Palace, Owen told the Daily Mirror: “The main man, Cristiano Ronaldo, again stole the headlines with his 800th and 801st career goals in the win against Arsenal.
“It will be very interesting to see how Ralf Rangnick gets on as the United boss. And also how he manages Ronaldo.
“That’s now two defeats in a row for Palace. They had a few chances against Leeds on Tuesday. But to concede in the last minute must be a tough one to take.
“Palace have given the top sides some problems this season, and I don’t think this will be easy for United. I think they will have just too much though, 2-1.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Newcastle turn to Everton man as centre-back options dwindle
TEAMtalk understands that Everton defender Yerry Mina has emerged as a January transfer target for Newcastle United.
Eddie Howe’s primary defensive targets have so far been Burnley’s James Tarkowski and Lille star Sven Botman, but neither of those deals were possible.
Sevilla’s Diego Carlos has since emerged as the number one target. However, that deal has not yet been agreed and Newcastle are looking at other options instead.
Now we can reveal that one of those the Magpies are keen on is Colombian ace Mina, although the recent sacking of Rafa Benitez could see the situation complicated.
Newcastle do still have room in their squad for two domestic loans – and Mina could fill one of those berths.
But it remains to be seen whether Everton would be happy to potentially strengthen a rival who are only seven points behind them in the table and still sit in the bottom three.
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Newcastle, West Ham join Szalai chase
Meanwhile, West Ham and Newcastle United have joined the list of clubs keen to sign Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai in the January transfer window.
The centre-back, who turns 24 on Thursday, has garnered plenty of attention this season with his displays in Turkey. The Hungry international has made 17 starts among 19 top-flight appearances for the Yellow Canaries. And many top clubs have taken note.
Barcelona were linked in November last year but Chelsea seemed at the front of the queue for his signature. A report in early December claimed the Blues had all but sealed a deal for the stopper.
That was because Hungary manager Marco Rossi seemed to confirm that he was off to Stamford Bridge.
Asked about his squad, the 57-year-old Italian said: “It’s hard to name just one player, but right now I see very well Attila Szalai, who plays for Fenerbahce, but I think he is joining Chelsea.”
However, just a day later, Fenerbahce issued a rebuttal.
“The allegations regarding the transfer of our player Attila Szalai, which have been made public in the last few days, based on foreign press and social media, do not reflect the truth,” a statement read.
“Our club has not made any transfer negotiations regarding our successful football player Attila Szalai. Our player continues his work completely concentrating on the goals of our team. We present it to the public.”
That news opened the door for other clubs to get involved and the Hammers have now been linked, per Sky Sports. David Moyes is in the market for a central defender following Angelo Ogbonna’s season-ending injury.
And Szalai ticks all the boxes, as he is also a left-footed defender and is a decade younger than the Italian. But the north-east outfit are also keen.
Szalai to solve Newcastle problems
Newcastle are involved in a relegation fight after winning just one Premier League fixture this term. They have been unable to see out games from winning positions.
And that was the case again at the weekend. They let slip a 1-0 lead, with Joao Pedro bagging late on to earn Watford a point.
Eddie Howe needs to improve his rearguard if he is to prevent the Magpies revolution hitting the buffers in May. Szalai, capped 23 times by Hungary, would not break the bank.
He is valued in the region of £17m – a price that has also attracted Serie A giants AC Milan.
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Leeds United ready to move on to Brenden Aaronson Plan B as Nott’m Forest star is eyed
Leeds United are plotting a swoop for Championship star Brennan Johnson, though they will need to snatch him from under the noses of Brentford.
Johnson, 20, is one of the breakout stars in the Championship this season. The Nottingham Forest youngster has been directly involved in 12 goals in the league this season.
His top performances in a Forest shirt have led to interest from Premier League sides. Brentford are keen on bringing the attacking-midfielder to the club, though Forest have upped their valuation to £20million.
Forest are just one point outside the Championship play-off places. As such, their desire to keep their star boy makes a lot of sense.
It is unclear at present whether Brentford will succumb to the £20million valuation on Johnson’s head. The Bees were previously set on £18million.
Nottingham Post reports that Leeds United have joined the pursuit of the youngster. In fact, the Whites have reportedly “known everything down to his [Johnson’s] inside leg measurement” for some time.
With the extensive scouting Leeds seem to have done, it seems they are very keen on the youngster.
The West Yorkshire side have been crying out for an attacking midfielder after injuries left a big hole in their side. Indeed, Johnson seems like the type of player that could give them that.
The 20-year-old has been utilised across the midfield and forward line in his career.
As such, he would be a handy asset for Leeds, given they have struggled with injuries in almost every position this season.
Johnson joins Aaronson in Leeds’ transfer plans
Leeds could, therefore, reportedly turn to Johnson this month in an effort to strengthen their midfield.
Leeds have been tracking Brenden Aaronson for some time. The midfielder, similarly to Johnson, would bring attacking prowess to the Whites.
However, the Whites have seen two offers rejected for the RB Salzburg star.
Despite that, he remains Leeds’ prime target and they could yet launch a summer approach.
What’s more, the USA international is reportedly keen on the move himself.
But in the meantime, a move for Forest star Johnson could at least fill that midfield void.
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