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Manchester United to fight off AS Monaco and Chelsea for Sergi Roberto?

Manchester United are reportedly one of three clubs looking to trigger the release clause of Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto. According to a report by Spanish outlet Don Balon and picked up by the Manchester Evening News, United are prepared to pay the €40m required to release the player from his contract.

Roberto emerged as an important first team player under Luis Enrique, filling in at right back after Barcelona failed to properly replace Dani Alves when he left the club to join Juventus last summer. But with the departure of Enrique and the arrival of Ernesto Valverde at the club, Roberto’s place in the squad might be in jeopardy, especially with new signing Nelson Semedo taking up the right back position.

Along with United, the two clubs attracted by Roberto’s relatively low release clause are Ligue 1 champions AS Monaco and Premier League winners Chelsea. The former have just lost midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and, while they have brought in Youri Tielemans and Soualiho Meite as midfield reinforcements so far this summer,  both were signed before Bakayoko left, and they may feel the need for further reinforcement. While Chelsea, who had just signed Bakayoko, might not need furthere strengthening in midfield, they are short on the right wing-back position, which is only filled by Victor Moses at the moment, and they could see Roberto as one such target.

As for United, Roberto’s versatility could be a strong reason for their interest. United’s reported interest in Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier suggests that they see right back as a position that needs strengthening, and Roberto’s ability to play both there and in midfield is a very useful one, which could potentially save United the headache of an injury crisis.

But it’s difficult to see how United would really benefit from the signing of Roberto, beyond just depth.

While United might be eyeing up right backs, it’s a bit difficult to see why. Antonio Valencia has just come off one of, if not his best season in United red last season from right back, with Jose Mourinho calling him the best right back in the world, and they still have Matteo Darmian and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who did very well in the position in pre-season, as options in the position. And as for the midfield positions, United had just announced the signing of Nemanja Matic of Chelsea, and with Andreas Pereira establishing himself as a first team option following his return from a loan spell at Granada, United may have enough quality in midfield for Roberto to handle.

It’s not that Roberto would be a bad signing. His aforementioned versatility would make him a pretty handy signing indeed. But at the moment, he just isn’t what United need. They have enough quality on both right back and midfield for him to add too much to, and beyond that, United have youngsters raring to get their big breaks, players Roberto would get in the way of. And if United are simply looking to add depth in either position, they could be better off with someone cheaper or more experienced than Roberto.

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