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Man Utd face a win-win situation in 'transfer battle' with Barcelona for £51m man

Manchester United face a win-win situation after entering a transfer battle with Barcelona for one of La Liga’s top midfielders. Erik ten Hag is eyeing further reinforcements to continue revolutionising his midfield in upcoming transfer windows and has been able to watch one target up close this season.

According to AS, United have joined Barcelona in the race to sign Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi, as Ten Hag believes he would work well alongside Casemiro. The 23-year-old extended his La Real contract until 2027 in October but has a release clause worth £51million.

The report claims United are ready to trigger Zubimendi’s clause after he impressed in both Europa League group-stage meetings earlier in the campaign. He featured at Old Trafford and in San Sebastian as the Red Devils shared 1-0 wins with La Real on each other’s home turf, collating scouting reports from both meetings.

And while the La Liga outfit are said to be unaware of the interest from England, they are confident he is committed to the club for years to come. However, there is a sense that the stance could change if they receive a suitable offer for the Spain international’s services or if his release clause is met.

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United will be confident of emerging from any midfield transfer battle against Barcelona triumphant, regardless of the outcome. If Ten Hag gets his way and snaps up Zubimendi in 2023, he will have sealed three midfield targets since taking charge after Christian Eriksen and Casemiro.

However, if Zubimendi were to opt for a switch to the Nou Camp, the doorway to Frenkie de Jong would undoubtedly widen again after the Dutchman’s dream Ajax reunion evaded him in the summer. Despite the success of the first transfer window of his rebuild, he will regret not adding De Jong to his ranks after United spent months chasing him.

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Ten Hag wants another midfielder, with Fred expected to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, and a striker to replace Cristiano Ronaldo as a priority. He has also publicly admitted his desire for a right-back to challenge Diogo Dalot amid doubts over Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s future.

Zubimendi could be one of many alternative midfielders to De Jong on Ten Hag’s shortlist. However, missing out in favour of Barca may, in the grand scheme of things, produce gold.

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