Manchester United could allow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to move for a midfielder in the January transfer window.
United missed out on a midfield addition in the summer amid interest in Newcastle youngster Sean Longstaff but the MEN understands the United board could make funds available for a mid-season reinforcement.
Solskjaer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward met earlier this month to discuss prospective targets for next year, having also ended the summer devoid of a new forward to offset the departure of Romelu Lukaku.
United obtained £73million from Inter Milan for Lukaku on the eve of the Premier League transfer deadline and finished the European window with a net spend of £60.4m. The Lukaku fee could underpin any winter investment United choose to make.
Newcastle demanded £50m for Longstaff, 21, when Woodward approached The Magpies in early July. The MEN revealed United had ‘a few’ preferred targets ahead of Longstaff and they retain an interest in West Ham’s England international Declan Rice. A January move for Longstaff or Rice, contracted to West Ham until 2024, is highly unlikely.
United have significantly lowered the average age of their midfield by selling Marouane Fellaini to Shandong Luneng and losing Ander Herrera, whom they wanted to keep. James Garner, 18, has been added to the first-team squad and Nemanja Matic is the only one of the five senior central midfielders aged over 26.
Solskjaer has already encountered major issues with the midfield. Andreas Pereira flagged as a starter in attacking roles against Chelsea and Southampton, Matic has aired his dissatisfaction about being dropped and the £52m Fred was overlooked for all four Premier League matchday squads in August. Paul Pogba withdrew from the France national squad with an ankle injury.
Solskjaer spoke with Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen in the last week of the Premier League window but his suspicions the attacking midfielder preferred a move to Spain were confirmed.
United also felt a move for Eriksen would have endangered Pogba’s future, since Real Madrid were encouraging Spurs to sell Eriksen to United in the hope it would give Pogba leverage to force through a move to the Bernabeu. United have not signed a player from Tottenham since Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
Eriksen, 27, ended up staying at Spurs and will have six months left on his contract in January. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is desperate to avoid losing Eriksen and former United target Toby Alderweireld on free transfers when their deals expire in the summer.
United previously capitalised when Alexis Sanchez ran down his contract with Arsenal to sign him as part of a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018. Real Madrid linchpin Luka Modric and Blaise Matuidi of Juventus – both targeted by different United managers in the past – are among the midfielders out of contract next year but both are well into their 30s and United have a preference for young and British options.