Manchester United and Liverpool battle for Junior Firpo but could Kieran Tierney be a better fit?

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be going head-to-head with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp over Real Betis defender Junior Firpo this summer. United was first linked to the 22-year-old left-back last month in what is now being described as a £45 million transfer, which is the same amount as the player’s release clause.

The reports state that both Liverpool and United had not been put off by the player’s price tag, which could be good for the Spanish side. One factor in both clubs being interested in the player is to bolster the left-back position. United has just Luke Shaw who is a true left back with Liverpool having just Andy Robertson, however, United had Ashley Young, who could play in that role, which could be problematic.

Firpo can also play in a number of other positions, including; central defence, left-wing, which could also add some desire in both managers signing the 22-year-old this summer. However, for United at least, there might be other players out there who might be a better fit, especially for the money that would have to be spent on this transfer alone, if the reports are, in fact, true.

One of those players is Celtic’s 22-year-old left-back, Kieran Tierney. The Scottish international fullback is currently linked to Arsenal but a £15 million bid has been rejected for the player, who is valued at £25 million by the Scottish champions. This could become a £20 million saving on Firpo for United which could also see another player from the United Kingdom in the playing squad and a player with immense talent to rival Shaw.

Arsenal is seeking to replace Nacho Monreal who left the club at the end of last season so will be urgently looking to sign a player to replace him. However, United are not so desperate and that could add complications, such as the player not seeing himself as the first choice left-back at the club, which could be the same for Firpo. Both Tierney and Firpo can play in different positions, however, the former is not a regular at anything other than left-back.

Under the years of success under Sir Alex Ferguson, United always had more than one option in all positions, which is a good method to success and gives more depth, especially if there are injuries or the main player in that position is not performing to the best of their abilities. Competition in a certain position demands the best from each player in line to play there, which should produce for United, something we have not seen for some time.

Of course, there are no guarantees that United is actually interested in Firpo, or Tierney for that matter, however, they should be. United will have a number of players scouted for the last few months or longer. They should really be in a more advanced stage of recruitment at this stage of the summer, however, other Premier League clubs have still not made waves in the transfer market yet.

If a left-back is to be recruited this summer, Tierney should be a more affordable option to that of Firpo. The fact Celtic would sell for £25 million, if there was an offer on the table should really be a no brainer for United, who under the Glazers have been penny-pinching for a long time now. That should be great news for Ed Woodward and his purse strings. I think Tierney could challenge Shaw which would bring the best of both players, or at least it should do.

Jose Mourinho interested in Celtic left-back this summer?

Kieran Tierney has been linked to Manchester United over the last few days with manager Jose Mourinho looking to strengthen his defence ahead of the new season. The Old Trafford club have already signed Victor Lindelof to strengthen the defence this summer, albeit in the central defensive area but one position needing reinforcement is at left-back. Last season Luke Shaw did not have the best campaign losing the trust from the manager, seeing himself criticised and then once given the chance and showing his abilities, injury struck once again seeing him on the sidelines throughout the summer and into the new season where he will miss the pre-season tour, despite suggestions he could travel with the team in a week’s time.

What is being reported and by who?

The Mirror started with the reports that Tierney, 20 could leave Celtic this summer in a £15 million deal. The Sun have also reported the prospective transfer, citing the information provided by The Mirror. To me, this makes such a deal suspicious as one newspaper is using the reports from another to form a story, which could cast away any chances of this being a realistic transfer story. Tierney has brushed off claims of a move this summer, seemingly interested in staying with the Scottish champions ahead of their new campaign. Tierney is highly regarded in Scotland and United, amongst other clubs sent scouts to watch the player against England last month. The fact that the left-back position seems to be a weak one at United could be the reason why Manchester United have been linked with Tierney, which may well be the only firm lead in this story. Tierney has four years left on his contract with Celtic wanting him to remain at the club for one more year.

What type of player is Kieran Tierney?

Tierney is a left-back and quite a talented one if you look at his performances for Celtic over the past season, and more importantly against England in the FIFA World Cup qualifier which resulted in a 2-2 draw last month. Celtic and manager Brendan Rodgers both seem keen to keep the 20-year-old at the club for at least another year. Tierney seems to have caught Jose Mourinho’s eye in Celtic’s 3-3 draw with Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last season, a match in which the left-back was impressive, as were Celtic to achieve that result against City. Tierney could help strengthen United’s left-back ahead of the new season, which would take the pressure off Shaw, who is in a race to be fit for the start of the season – also giving United a rotation option, which will be needed in the position next season with United back in the Champions League and fighting for three domestic trophies, aiming to return to the helm of English football, challenging for the Premier League crown.

Likelihood of the transfer?

Right now I see this as speculation only. The player seems happy at Celtic, as do the club in wanting to keep him. United are said to be looking for a new left-back, which seems to link United to Tierney being that he plays in that position. United may be interested in the player, but with Celtic wanting him to remain at the club for a further year, at least, it would suggest that a deal would he hard to reach unless the player does actually want to leave the club this summer. His current contract will keep him at Celtic for four more years, so Celtic really do not have a reason to worry at this moment in time. United may have other targets, but I am sure if they want to make their interest known with a bid, it could lead to the player heading to Old Trafford or beyond, but I expect the player to remain a Celtic player next season.

copyright: JW