Man Utd have obvious mega deal to go after as Chelsea open the door

ten Hag comments on Man Utd's January transfer plans

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Chelsea have opened the path for Manchester United to complete a mega deal in 2023 as they close in on the £112million capture of Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez. United were also interested in Fernandez but could profit from missing out by securing an even more lucrative signing.

The Red Devils are short on strikers after terminating Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract in November, and Erik ten Hag has made no secret of his desire to recruit.

But business will be hard to come by in January, with the club’s sale on the horizon and the Glazer family reluctant to hand Ten Hag a parting gift.

That said, a striker is expected to be a priority this summer, and Chelsea going all-out for Fernandez may mean an opportunity to steal a march for one of Europe’s most exciting stars has emerged.

After missing out on Cody Gakpo to Liverpool, United are reportedly eyeing AC Milan forward Rafael Leao as an alternative.

And although Chelsea were understood to be Leao’s biggest Premier League suitors, the capture of Fernandez will take Todd Boehly’s spending over £400m in his first full season as owner.

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With the Blues likely out of the picture, United could swoop in and lure the 23-year-old to Old Trafford this summer.

However, Manchester City are also thought to be in the frame for Leao, and a Milan stay is also looking increasingly on the cards.

Sky Sport Italy report that Leao is close to agreeing a new contract at San Siro after the Rossoneri increased their offer to £6.2m (€7m) per season.

His current deal expires in 2024, though, so any hiccups in talks could present a golden opportunity for United to sneak in a secure a transfer as he enters his final 12 months.

United are hunting a new striker this month, but any move will be a loan or cheap buy as the Glazers prepare to walk away from Old Trafford after a 27-year stint at the helm.

Ten Hag will hope to receive a healthy transfer budget in the summer, potentially the first window under new ownership.

And a significant chunk will likely go toward a new goalscorer, with Leao joined by Victor Osimhen and Dusan Vlahovic at the forefront of links.

Chelsea’s impending capture of Fernandez may be a blow in United’s midfield department, but it has the makings of a boost in attack.

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