Manchester United in race for ‘defensive prodigy’ as Chelsea’s Kante call could end £100m dream – Casey Evans

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United are reportedly leading the race among multiple Premier League clubs for a ‘defensive prodigy’. Still, while one transfer looks promising, another more immediate signing could be under threat as Chelsea look to step up their interest.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid were reportedly interested in signing Diogo Dalot from United before the right back’s resurgence into the first team.

United in the race for ‘defensive prodigy’

According to a report by The Sun, United are leading the race for Blackburn Rovers’ 16-year-old defender Ashley Phillips, but face competition from Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Rovers’ boss Tony Mowbray has been full of praise for the young defender in the past, telling Lancs Live: He’s 6ft 4in, he’s fast, mobile and can pass it really well. He can use both feet, he’s composed.

“Ash is just a phenomenal young boy; if you were to create a defender in the mold of how you would want one, this kid has got every attribute.

“But he is still just a young boy. He needs time, which is why he’s training with the first team so that he gets confident and used to the level of intensity. He’s an exciting prospect, is all I’d say. But it’s in a position where there is a lot of responsibility.”

Our view: It is not a signing for the immediate future, but United have shown more of a willingness over the past few years to sign academy players with high potential actively, and Phillips would be no exception.

Chelsea ready to ‘get serious’ in transfer battle

According to the Daily Mail, United’s top summer target Rice would prefer to move to Chelsea in the summer. The report also states that Chelsea are serious in their interest and could be willing to sanction the sale of N’golo Kante to land the English midfielder.

Kante is still one of the best midfielders in the world, but injuries are hampering his minutes late, so maybe the London club believes that they need a change while the Frenchman still has value.

The MEN Sport understands that West Ham United’s price tag in the summer may mean that United have to wait another year to sign Rice, whose contract expires in 2024.

Declan Rice’s last-minute equalizer to send West Ham United’s FA Cup fixture to extra time is just one example of how important he has become to the London side.

Our view: Rice has been one of the outstanding performers in the Premier League this season and it is right that several clubs are interested in the player, but West Ham holds all the cards in this situation.

The last thing United needs when they need a rebuild in the summer is to be caught up in a long-winded transfer battle over one player.

Atletico wanted resurgent star

According to the Athletic, Atletico were looking at options to replace Kieran Trippier in the January window, and head coach Diego Simeone was interested in United’s full-back Dalot due to his ability to play both sides.

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Their initial interest began when United were interested in Trippier themselves under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Still, due to Dalot becoming the starting full back at Old Trafford, they realized it would be unrealistic to pursue the player.

Our view: Dalot has made the right-back position his own over the past few months under Ralf Rangnick, and it seems unlikely he will be going anywhere soon.

Who do you think Declan Rice joins? Follow our United On My Mind writer Casey Evans on Twitter and get involved in the discussion in the comment section below.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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