Former Manchester United Transfer Target Back On The Market
Manchester United have offered Spanish midfielder Juan Mata as part of a deal for Inter Milan’s Portugal international midfielder Joao Mario.
Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport claims there has already been preliminary contact between the two clubs although this has taken the form of meetings between intermediaries.
Mario was linked with Manchester United in the summer of 2016 when he was with Sporting Lisbon. It was reported at the time that the Premier League club had been told to pay €60million (at that time worth £48million) and that Sporting wouldn’t budge on the fee. But United baulked at that figure, as did Liverpool and Chelsea who were also interested.
Sporting did budge, though. Mario went to Inter in August of that year for €40million plus €5million in bonuses.
But his time in Italy hasn’t been fruitful. He started in 22 of Inter’s 38 Serie A games last season and was a substitute in eight others. This season, he has fallen down the pecking order under new coach Luciano Spalletti. He has just four starts and seven appearances off the bench to his name.
Corriere dello Sport claims United will offer Mata in part-exchange. Inter are cool over that proposal, but they will be more interested in Manchester United’s Armenia international winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Inter are looking to recoup their €40million investment in Mario. That’s worth £35million at today’s exchange rates. For his part, Mario wants to be part of Portugal’s World Cup squad and he fears missing out if he remains on Inter’s bench.
Mkhitaryan’s future is also under threat after he fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho. Whether United would be looking to do a direct swap for Mario remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked and are keeping tabs on the situation. But their situation is complicated by a need to sell players in order to remain within Uefa’s Financial Fair Play guidelines. A move from them in January will only come after the departure of some of their big-name fringe players.