Manchester United have accelerated their interest in Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia in an attempt to beat Lyon to a deal in the region of £13million.
Erik ten Hag had heavily scouted the 22-year-old as Ajax manager, appreciating his speed, positional awareness, high interception rate, and ability to attack space.
Malacia fits the profile of player the Dutchman wants at Old Trafford and he shares an agency – HCM Sports Management – with Frenkie de Jong; the club’s premier target this summer. The same agency also represents Donny van de Beek and Victor Lindelof.
Talks are progressing well over an initial £56 million deal for the Barcelona midfielder, which has allowed United to pivot to other players on a shortlist for their rebuild.
Reports in Holland suggest an agreement has already been reached with Feyenoord for Malacia, with United not distancing themselves from strong interest in the Netherlands international.
Discussions continue over the finer details of a deal for De Jong and there is still work to do but there appears an increased confidence a deal can be struck.
Personal terms are not expected to be a problem for the midfielder, who made 46 appearances for Barcelona last term and has four years remaining on his current contract at the Nou Camp.
De Jong played under new United boss Erik ten Hag at Ajax and was part of the squad that completed the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup double during the 2018/19 campaign, as well as reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
His potential arrival at Old Trafford is timely, with Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba having departed already this summer, leaving the club short of options in the middle of the park.
If Man Utd are to play the “dominant, dictating” football Erik ten Hag wants, their midfield needs an upgrade. Frenkie de Jong could be a solution, writes Sky Sports’ Peter Smith.
The stylish midfielder does his best work from deep, stepping past challenges or threading a pass through the lines to move his team up the pitch.
He rarely gives the ball away. He had a 91 per cent passing rate in La Liga last season and, as well as that metric, also eclipsed McTominay and Fred in stats measuring dribble success, touch quality and how often they are dispossessed.
De Jong may not be the sole answer to United’s problems but he would bring an upgrade to their central midfield department and unlock a way of playing Ten Hag desires.