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Manchester United 'alerted to cut-price deal for Raphael Varane replacement'

Man United 'alerted to cut-price deal for Varane replacement'
© Reuters
Manchester United reportedly learn that an offer of £35m could be enough to secure the signature of Sporting Lisbon defender Ousmane Diomande this summer.

Manchester United have reportedly learned that a modest fee of £35m could be enough to capture one of their prime defensive targets for the summer transfer window.

Alongside Sporting Lisbon teammate Goncalo Inacio - another name said to be on the Red Devils' shortlist - Ousmane Diomande has come on leaps and bounds under Ruben Amorim.

Still just 20 years of age, Diomande registered three goals and one assist in 38 contests for Sporting in the 2023-24 campaign, starting 25 Primeira Liga matches as his side topped the table.

The defender was also a part of Ivory Coast's Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad this year, starting two games at the tournament, and he is yet to sign a contract extension at Sporting since joining from Danish outfit FC Midtjylland in January 2023.

Diomande's existing terms run for another three years, though, and Sporting are also protected by a hefty release clause of €80m (£68.2m), but the Portuguese champions could supposedly soften their stance.

Sporting Lisbon's Ousmane Diomande celebrates scoring their third goal on September 17, 2023© Reuters

Man United 'could sign Diomande for £35m this summer'

According to The Express, Sporting are still hoping to garner around £51m through Diomande's sale, but bids of around £35m will be "seriously considered" by the Primeira Liga holders.

Amorim's side are apparently under serious pressure to boost their coffers through selling their star assets, but they remain determined to keep hold of Arsenal and Chelsea-linked striker Viktor Gyokeres.

As a result, either Diomande or fellow defender Inacio should be moved on in the coming weeks, as Sporting will strengthen their defensive ranks with the capture of Zeno Debast from Anderlecht.

The Red Devils are now understood to be weighing up an approach for the AFCON winner, and the two parties have supposedly been in close contact since a meeting with Diomande's entourage in the 2023-24 season.

Liverpool and Newcastle United have also been keeping tabs on the 2003-born defender in recent months, but both of Man United's Premier League rivals have reportedly taken a step back, giving the Red Devils a clear run.

Diomande to replace Raphael Varane at Old Trafford?

Manchester United's Raphael Varane on August 14, 2023© Reuters

While there are still several hurdles to clear to bring Diomande to Old Trafford, the 20-year-old certainly fits the bill as an ideal replacement for the departing Raphael Varane, confirmed to be leaving at the end of his contract in June.

The World Cup-winning Frenchman is one of two centre-backs who could depart for free this summer; Jonny Evans is in the same boat and is not a long-term solution at 36 years of age either way.

None of Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez or Willy Kambwala should be let go, but all three have suffered from injury problems this season, as has Victor Lindelof, whose own future is slightly more uncertain.

A cut-price £35m deal for Diomande would certainly represent a cheaper alternative to Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite - said to be Man United's top defensive target - who could command an £80m fee to leave Goodison Park.

Alternatively, Man United could try to capitalise on Chelsea's volatile financial situation with a move for Trevoh Chalobah, as the Blues focus on selling home-grown stars.

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