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Manchester United linked with Real Sociedad fullback Alvaro Odriozola

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly interested in Real Sociedad fullback Alvaro Odriozola this summer. It is suggested that the Portuguese manager would need to part with around £18 million to sign the 22-year-old in the summer, which is a pretty competitive transfer fee. Mourinho has a keen interest in La Liga and signed Eric Bailly from Villarreal, his first signing for the Old Trafford club, weeks after becoming the manager to succeed Louis van Gaal.

At fullback, United only have Antonio Valencia, Luka Shaw, Ashley Young, and Matteo Darmian this season and the latter has been used sparingly with recent reports suggesting he will be heading back to his native Italy in the summer with Juventus currently his speculated destination. With both Valencia and Young heading into the twilight of their careers, it leaves Shaw as the only young fullback at the club right now. United do have Academy graduates to turn to with Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Demetri Mitchell both on loan at Crystal Palace and Hearts respectively.

It is stated in The Sun, that Mourinho sent some of his scouts to Real Sociedad’s 2-1 defeat to Red Bull Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening with United’s interest in Odriozola intensifying. Sociedad crashed out of the secondary European competition at the round of 32 stage despite the 22-year-old scoring in the first leg the previous week, a 2-2 draw with former United winger Adnan Januzaj also scoring in the match.

It is said that Odriozola is a top talent in Spain where he can be seen demonstrating his pace and skill going forward. Of course, he is inexperienced, especially in the Premier League and is seen as a raw talent, especially when it comes to defending. That does not mean he is not going to be a player United should be interested in. United, with Valencia and Fosu-Mensah, have options which would allow Odriozola the time to become accustomed to the Premier League, meaning he would not be rushed straight into the team and expected to perform.

Odriozola has been capped twice by Spain, making his debut in the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Albania, which Spain won 3-0 and Odriozola assisted Thiago Alcantara’s goal in that game. His second appearance for his country came in the 5-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, a friendly, in November. The 22-year-old has risen to fame at his club quickly, making his senior debut just over a year ago in January 2017. Odriozola has since played 33 times in La Liga, cementing his position in the Sociedad starting XI.

Odriozola has faced Manchester United before, at youth level in the UEFA Youth League where he scored against them in the 2013/14 season, giving United a tough challenge to get out of their group that season, which did not happen. His development seems to have come far since then, earning himself a senior debut a year ago, becoming a constant fixture in the side since then. Mourinho has an eye for a star, a somewhat unknown – doing so with Bailly in his first summer transfer window with the Ivorian becoming one of United’s best defenders in the Mourinho era.

United will need to move quickly in the transfer market this summer, with it being a World Cup year, also that the transfer window will close before the first game in the Premier League kicks off, meaning the Portuguese manager will have around two months to conduct his business – normally doing it quickly with the Paul Pogba transfer saga dragging on into August 2016, the rest being signed before August came, or close to the start of the month.

Mourinho has a problem in midfield that he will need to address with Michael Carrick retiring at the end of the season and Marouane Fellaini’s contract expiring this summer. United have been linked to many midfielders already and that could suggest the club are seeking to get deals formulated quickly. Defensively, United have some good players, some who need improvement and others who are past their time, so strengthening may or may not happen there, other than in the fullback positions, which is a weak area right now and will need strengthening soon anyway.

United have also been linked to attacking players, despite the club being top-heavy in that area but the need for a striker to take the pressure off Romelu Lukaku may be needed, especially if Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaves the club in the summer with LA Galaxy leading the race to sign the player in the summer. I am sure the people in the know will be ahead of the game here with Mourinho and Ed Woodward pulling the strings to strengthen the club to take on Manchester City next season, or see the vast difference of the two sides just get greater.

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