Transfer

Ratcliffe could beat Juventus to “sensational” Man Utd transfer target

Last summer, Manchester United paid up to £72m to sign Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta, making him their sixth-most-expensive addition of all time after Paul Pogba, Antony, Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Romelu Lukaku.


Hojlund seemed to struggle at first to shoulder the pressure of that price tag, failing to score a Premier League goal until the 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa on Boxing Day. That strike, however, appears to have ignited the Dane, who is enjoying a run of five in six heading into Sunday’s reverse fixture against the Villans.

With the Hojlund deal looking better by the week, United are now exploring the possibility of doing further business with Atalanta. This week, it emerged that Erik ten Hag’s side have made initial contact over a deal for midfielder Teun Koopmeiners, who’s hoping to leave Bergamo this summer.

Juventus fear Man Utd in Koopmeiners race

According to Italian outlet Tuttosport (via Sport Witness), United are the leading Premier League suitors for Koopmeiners. Juventus are also keen, but they recognise that the Red Devils, particularly after the fresh investment from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, are able to overwhelm them financially. Atalanta are demanding around £51m to sell the Dutchman, and the “dangerous” United should be able to reach that figure.

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He’s caught the eye of the European elite by making waves in his homeland.

Encouragingly for United, Atalanta are already looking at possible replacements and have identified Marco Brescianini at Frosinone as a possible target. Juventus are also looking at Brescianini as they draw up contingency plans in the event that they miss out on Koopmeiners to United.

“Sensational” Koopmeiners can address creativity issue

Although Koopmeiners has played most often as an attacking midfielder this season, he’s also operated as a number eight and a number six, while going further back in his career, he’s amassed 46 appearances at centre-back and even popped up on the right wing a couple of times, too. That remarkable level of versatility has led Sky Sports’ Dougie Critchley to laud him as “sensational”.

Even though he’s been moved around the team, the 25-year-old has maintained an excellent level of production for a midfielder, netting seven times and providing four assists in 26 games in all competitions. While he’s scored more than he’s set up, the underlying numbers suggest that creativity is his biggest strength – Koopmeiners ranks inside the top seven in Serie A for expected assisted goals (3.9), shot-creating actions (81) and key passes (43).

Rank

Serie A player

Club

Key passes

1

Albert Gudmundsson

Genoa

55

2

Matias Soule

Frosinone

51

3

Antonio Candreva

Salernitana

49

4

Teun Koopmeiners

Atalanta

43

5

Matteo Politano

Napoli

42

United would appear to be in desperate need of another playmaker, with Bruno Fernandes (seven) and Marcus Rashford (five) the only players in the squad to notch more than two assists in all competitions this season. It’s no surprise, then, that they’re targeting a player of Koopmeiners’ profile.

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