Roma centre-back Kostas Manolas is the latest defender being linked with a high profile move to Manchester United as manager Jose Mourinho seeks new faces to help fix one of the leakiest defensive units in the Premier League this season.
United are expected to have a scout watch Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic in action over the weekend, while Joachim Andersen of Sampdoria has also emerged as a potential target.
But new gossip originating from Italy has it that United could (a red flag will become apparent as you keep reading) also turn their attention to Greek international Manolas as a result of the relatively low release clause said to be in his current contract at Stadio Olimpico.
The 27-year-old, who hit headlines across Europe last season when his dramatic late goal completed an unlikely Roma comeback and knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League, can apparently be bought for €36m (£31.9m). That price is far less than the £80m Leicester reportedly wanted for Harry Maguire and the £50m Fiorentina are said to want for Milenkovic.
Manolas has been with Roma since 2014 when he transferred from Greek giants Olympiacos. Now a quarter of the way through his fifth season in Italy, he has played close to 200 games for Roma and has plenty of experience at the highest level.
However, the exact source and validity of the rumour linking Manolas with Old Trafford remains rather unclear as the original Corriere dello Sport article that is cited by many of the outlets that have pushed the United connection makes absolutely no mention of United, not even in passing.
Speculation about a United approach for Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld seems to have dried up of late, but the proven Belgian is another player who might be considered to be in the bracket of ‘low hanging fruit’.
As things stand, Alderweireld, who has often performed well against United in the past for both Tottenham and Southampton, is due to be out of contract at the end of the season. Spurs are believed to hold an option that would trigger a 12-month extension to 2020, but that has an already widely publicised impact of its own whereby it activates a £25m release clause.