Man Utd and Ten Hag ‘in love’ with Barcelona transfer target

Suraj Radia
Suraj Radia
  • 5 Dec 2022 18:56 GMT
  • 2 min read
Erik ten Hag, Man Utd, 2022/23

Erik ten Hag is desperate to strengthen his midfield with one of Barcelona’s top transfer target, with the Manchester United boss said to be ‘in love’ with the player after a number of scouting missions.

Martin Zubimendi had been strongly linked with a move to Barca before he penned a new five-year deal with Real Sociedad in October but United could still make a move for him in January.

The 23-year-old is believed to have a release clause worth around €60 million in his new contract and he impressed in his two games against United in the Europa League group stage.

Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo are quoted by SportWitness as stating both Ten Hag and Barca boss Xavi are ‘in love’ with Zubimendi but United will have the edge due to the Catalan side’s financial issues.

Despite the reports, Real Sociedad are believed to be calm over Zubimendi’s future and their president, Jokin Aperribay described the defensive midfielder as a ‘pillar’ of their side.

He said: “[Zubimendi] has had many opportunities to leave, but he wants to stay at Real and is a fundamental pillar. If the player wants to leave, I am not very much in favour of him staying,”

Will United sign a midfielder in January?

United were gearing up for a quiet January window after spending more than £200m in the summer on the likes of Lisandro Martinez and Antony.

However, the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo has left the club short-handed in attack and United may look to sign a new forward, with Cody Gakpo a top target following his impressive performances at the World Cup.

Ronaldo’s exit for no compensation has relieved a significant strain on the wage bill and it could allow the opportunity for a new signing to come in.

Although United are still in the market for a younger midfielder to partner Casemiro, bringing one in along with a striker could prove a difficult task.

There is also the potential that United may hold out until the summer to make a renewed move for Frenkie de Jong after he rejected a switch to Old Trafford last summer.

A pursuit of De Jong could also allow Barcelona a chance to replace him with Zubimendi, meaning United may focus on bringing in a forward before going for their preferred target in the summer.