Manchester United look to be formalising interest in 19-year-old Velez Sarsfield midfielder Thiago Almada, with ‘contact’ over a possible deal thought to have been established.
United have significantly reinvested in their global scouting operation in recent years with the intention of identifying - and signing - the best young talents around the world early in their career.
Author and journalist Andy Mitten recently remarked that United are ‘scouting well in Spain’ in reference to the expected capture of 16-year-old defender Marc Jurado. The club also spent big – in youth terms – to sign Hannibal Mejbri, then also 16, from Monaco last year.
South America also appears to be on the club’s radar, with TuttoMercatoWeb reporting that United’s attempts to sign Almada from Argentina’s Velez is a ‘work in progress’.
It is said that contact has been established, with United looking to negotiate a fee in the region of £16m fee for the teenager, down from a release clause rumoured to be the equivalent of £22m.
Talent identification and long-term development has started to shape and influence transfer policy at many clubs, not just United, in the last couple of years.
Fewer and fewer sides are willing to spend big on established superstars and prefer to spend their money on players they believe can become superstars, but are yet to reach their peak.
United have very carefully followed such a policy since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed permanent manager in March 2019. It was what led the club to sign Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire last summer and what has been primarily dictating the club’s targeting of Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham this year.
Even marquee January signing Bruno Fernandes can, at 25, be considered a long-term investment as a player who should continue to improve in the coming years.