Exclusive: Manchester United look to Mina to calm Mourinho storm after baulking at Alderweireld price

Jose Mourinho needs Manchester United to invest in his squad before the season starts.
Jose Mourinho needs Manchester United to invest in his squad before the season starts.

Manchester United are considering signing Yerry Mina from Barcelona as a lower-cost response to Jose Mourinho’s request for defensive reinforcement ahead of an English Premier League season that starts in just 10 days’ time.

While Leicester City continue to block interest in their England centre back Harry Maguire, Barca have been actively marketing Mina, whom they now believe could raise a transfer fee of as much as €45millon given United’s involvement. Leicester’s reluctance to lose Maguire has resulted in a record £75m fee being mentioned for the centre back, who at 25 has just two seasons’ experience in the Premier League and has yet to play a Champions League tie.

Mina, 23, has been scouted by United since 2016 with the club considering moving for the Colombian before he joined Barcelona from Palmeiras for a fee of €11.8m in January. The Liga champions initially planned to place their 1m95 defender on loan for the coming season, before seeing the opportunity to take advantage of series of a World Cup Finals campaign in which Mina scored three times.

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Mourinho went into the summer window recommending that United recruit an experienced centre back capable of leading a defence that has been a weak point during his first two seasons as Old Trafford manager. While neither Maguire nor Mina fits that description, it is understood that Mourinho’s preference between the two would be the South American.

Of the more experienced options on this summer’s market, Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur are open to selling Jerome Boateng and Toby Alderweireld. United, however, have baulked at Tottenham’s asking price for Alderweireld, and there are question marks over the injury records of both 29-year-olds.

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United’s belated approach for Mina has complicated the recruitment plans of Everton, who have been negotiating a joint transfer of the central defender and Barca team-mate Lucas Digne. Should Mina choose United or another suitor such as Olympique Lyonnais, Everton may resurrect their interest in Marcos Rojo.

United would prefer to offload at least one of the five senior centre backs currently in their squad to make room for the new addition. Everton inquired about Rojo’s availability before they entered discussions over Mina, and while the Argentina international’s relatively high salary is an issue, it is understood that Rojo would prefer to remain in the northwest of England should if he has to leave this summer. Newly promoted Wolverhampton have also expressed an interest in the versatile defender.

Two more options Manchester United have considered.
Two more options Manchester United have considered.

As the Premier League transfer window approaches its early deadline, have added just one player who can be reasonably expected to go straight into Mourinho’s starting line-up, the Brazil midfielder Fred. “We basically have the same players,” the manager said on Monday. “The players we have bought, one is a goalkeeper cover, one is a 19-year-old kid, so in fact we have one new player which is Fred. So of course our team is not going to be very different.”

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After publicly and privately pressing his employers to provide two more players – a central defender and a winger – before the window closes, the Portuguese says he now expects United to deliver on half of that. “I’m confident I’ll get one,” Mourinho said. “I think two is not what I will get.

“I think in every pre-season it happens basically the same with probably every club; the manager wants more. It is our nature and our way to always want more for your team. But club decisions are different. Normally you don’t get what you want, which basically happened throughout my career. If I sign one player before the window closes, that’s fine.”