Manchester United targeting Swedish winger as alternative option to Ivan Perisic?

Manchester United seem to be trying to sort out their summer recruitment plan despite there being more than a fortnight since Romelu Lukaku signed for the Old Trafford club in a £75 million switch from Everton. Ivan Perisic, Inter Milan’s Croatian winger has been linked with Jose Mourinho’s United side since March, but recently the likelihood of that more transpiring seems is uncertain with United still retaining an interest but the Milan club sticking to their guns by wanting their valuation, around £48 million, being met. There were also reports that the Italian club would want Anthony Martial as part of the deal, which would be a bad deal for Mourinho and United. It would seem that seeking a replacement to sign instead of Perisic is now on the cards.

Red Bull Leipzig winger Emil Forsberg seems to be the latest name linked to Manchester United by the media with suggestions that the Old Trafford club are preparing a €50 million (£44.6 million) bid for the Swedish winger, something which seems to come from Italian reports, Calcio Mercato to be exact. Now how would an Italian media outlet have information on Manchester United preparing a bid for a Swedish player who currently plays in the Bundesliga in Germany? That astounds me too. If it was Gianluca Di Marzio, it may be credible, but right now I am less than convinced. Forsberg at 25 is a better option than Perisic based on his age, being at least three years his junior, but I think Perisic, being the first choice for Mourinho would be the preferred option.

Perisic seems to have everything Mourinho is looking for in a player, able to run at speed, beat his man and cross into the striker, even cut in and score himself. Anthony Martial offers this on the left-wing too, but if Mourinho changes his formation to incorporate two strikers this season, the Frenchman could very well change positions, also play as a stand in for the left-wing with United having many different options for different formations as I am sure the manager will not utilise the same formation and the same players throughout the season as that will show United as being predictable. United need to hand surprises to their opposition from time to time, the formation and personnel being that surprise.

During the 2015/16 season, Leipzig came second in the Bundesliga 2, earning promotion into the Bundesliga. That season Forsberg scored eight goals in 33 appearances. In their first season in the German top flight, Leipzig finished second, just five points behind eventual champions Bayern Munich, which is an achievement and one of the reasons the German club will not sell their best player, especially with Liverpool looking to sign Naby Keïta. Next season could be another good one for the side, who will play in the UEFA Champions League from the group stage, something the club and their manager will want to keep their players for. Last season Forsberg scored eight goals in 31 appearances, keeping that consistency from the Bundesliga 2 the previous season.

Leipzig director Ralf Rangnick has suggested none of the club’s top players will leave this summer, which is something we have all heard before, but you could understand why the club will want to keep the same squad heading into the new season. Speaking to German magazine Bild in June, Rangnick said:

“We’re not thinking about selling our best players this summer. There’s no red line for us. We will keep our team and improve it in several positions.”

Forsberg’s agent, Hasan Cetinkaya, has also had his say, suggesting that ‘it might be time’ for the former Malmö winger to test himself at one of the bigger clubs. Rangnick commented on Forsberg’s agent’s comments, saying:

“Those are Christmas wishes in the summer. We have twice already adjusted the contract of Emil.”

Based on the fact Forsberg has only just been reported as a United target this summer, this makes me suspicious. It could well be true, but with the comments from Rangnick, it may be more wasted time for United, who have around 36 days before the summer transfer window closes on the 31st August 2017 at 23:00 BST. Could this be something to make Inter Milan think about their price and other demands for Perisic? There has to be a reason why these reports have materialised today. Is it just the click-bait media working their hardest to keep click-bait articles coming thick and fast? There are plenty of opportunities available to the mind. Trying to make Inter see that there are other players United could sign is a good reason though.

Inter manager Luciano Spalletti has told the media, reported by Sky Sports, that the club intends to keep Perisic but he also suggests that if a team came in with a good offer and the club had a replacement lined up, they would think about the offer. Now to me, this seems to be the club trying to tempt United into returning to the table for the player again. Perhaps United’s interest has cooled and the unsaleable Perisic is very much sellable and the club is looking to make that happen, keeping their demands seemingly on the table, with United sticking to their guns, hopefully. Spalletti said:

“Sure there are rumours but we want to keep Perisic. He’s a very important player for the team. We are counting on him to start the new season. But if somebody comes in with a very difficult offer to reject then we will consider that, but of course, we need to find a valid alternative for Perisic as well.”

Things will certainly reach a conclusion at some point. Manchester United are due to play Barcelona in their final match in the International Champions Cup, also their final match of the United States of America leg in their pre-season tour so will be heading back to Manchester after the match, probably back in the United Kingdom at some point on Thursday. United will have a few days before heading out to Oslo, Norway where they will face Valerenga on Sunday, before heading to Dublin, Ireland next week to face Sampdoria, which will mark the end of pre-season with United then readying themselves for the UEFA Super Cup clash with Real Madrid, a team they beat on penalties in the USA. By then, hopefully, we should see some more transfer action.

copyright: JW