Manchester United hope to announce the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro for close to £60 million in the next few days and are also now fully turning their attentions to PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo who will cost around £34m.
An alternative option to Gakpo is the Atletico Madrid forward Yannick Carrasco, who is priced at £25.5m, after United failed with a bid of £67.6m for Ajax’s Antony who was their first-choice.
In yet another busy day at United, as they frantically try to improve their under-performing squad before the transfer window closes in less than two weeks’ time, Casemiro, 30, has indicated he wants to quit Real and sign a four-year deal which will see a significant increase in his wages.
Speaking today, Real head coach Carlo Ancelotti said: “I have spoken with Casemiro. He wants to try a new challenge. We understand his decision. Negotiations are ongoing but he has decided to leave Real Madrid."
While he was not an original target for Erik ten Hag, with the United manager steadfastly wanting Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, Casemiro has become a priority as the Dutch manager seeks to bolster his midfield with a highly-experienced No 6.
Signing the Brazil international will represent something of a coup for United, who are under severe pressure following their dismal start to the campaign and with Ten Hag demanding up to five new signings in this window. Of those Casemiro is set to be the star name to arrive, and although Real do not want to sell him the club, out of respect because of his achievements, have told the player he can go if he wishes.
Casemiro has three years left on his contract with Real but following the signing of Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco for £67.6m his place is under threat. Casemiro was on the bench last week, as Tchouameni started.
The five-time Champions League winner has been part of Real’s famed midfield, along with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, for years but has told team-mates that he is prepared to seek a new challenge and is interested in United’s lucrative offer. He has held talks with head coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Real president Florentino Perez, who is close to the player’s agent Oscar Ribot, has already told Casemiro that he can decide his own future. Even though Real are insisting they have not yet received an official offer from United, personal terms are understood to have been agreed.
Ten Hag has been shocked by United’s performances in losing to Brighton and away to Brentford, and signing Casemiro has therefore become a priority. He is a more defensive-minded player than De Jong who is looking increasingly likely to stay at Barcelona, despite United agreeing a fee of up to £72m.
If De Jong does leave then it appears it will be for Chelsea. United failed to agree terms with Adrien Rabiot earlier in the week, despite Juventus accepting a £15m fee for the midfielder, and are in talks with Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic but may not have the budget to sign him as well as Casemiro even if they do want two midfielders.
Another priority for United is a versatile forward and Carraso is on their list but is behind Gakpo, although United have to wait to see whether PSV progress to the Champions League group stages.
Meanwhile Carrasco, the 28-year-old Belgium international will be allowed to leave Atletico and United are considering a move. They also retain an interest in Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic.
Carrasco has emerged as doubts grow over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club, with Ten Hag prepared to let the unsettled Portugal forward leave as he attempts to breathe life into United’s season.
Atletico have been among the clubs linked with Ronaldo but a deal for Carrasco is currently being considered in isolation. Carrasco is in his second spell at Atletico, having joined them in 2015 from Monaco and having a two-year spell in China with Dalian Professional before returning to Spain, initially on loan.
United have met with Atletico and while there were suggestions they were bidding for Matheus Cunha or Alvaro Morata – they have considered both – or Joao Felix it is Carrasco who is the most likely option from that club. Atletico need to sell some forwards.
United started the season with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as wide attackers, with both short on confidence and looking to battle their way back into the England squad with a return to form. Rashford’s brother – and representative – Duwaine has held talks about a move to Paris Saint-Germain but United do not want to sell the 24-year-old.
United are also planning to move for Borussia Dortmund right-back Thomas Meunier and would like to sell Aaron Wan-Bissaka who Ten Hag believes has no future at the club despite being signed for £50m. A return to Crystal Palace appears likely for Wan-Bissaka but it is a deal that may go down to the transfer deadline day.
United would like to recoup as much money as possible for the defender but it is unlikely that Palace will offer more than £10m and may initially propose a loan deal which United might have to reluctantly accept.
They have also targeted Everton goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in their search for an experienced No 2 as back-up to David De Gea and having let Dean Henderson go on loan to Nottingham Forest. However they face a battle to persuade Everton to let the 35-year-old go.