Manchester United have been linked with a move for Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi in recent times, as manager Erik ten Hag seeks to bolster his midfield options.
Recent reports have claimed that the 23-year-old has caught the attention of those at Old Trafford as a result of his performances for the Basque outfit of late, with the player reportedly having a €65m (£56m) release clause in his existing deal.
The suggestion is that price may prove too great for United in the New Year, with the La Liga side unlikely to be open to a lesser offer in the winter window, particularly after having already recouped a hefty fee for Newcastle United man Alexander Isak in the summer.
Transfer insider Dean Jones – speaking to GIVEMESPORT – has now provided an update on the Red Devils’ interest, with the respected source revealing that the Premier League giants are keeping tabs on the Spaniard, albeit while admitting a move in January may be unlikely.
He stated: “I think they might well be tracking him, but I don’t think that this is what they’re looking for in the winter window. I think that they’ve got a reasonable amount of options in there at the moment. I think Ten Hag’s just figuring out his best combinations in there.”
Despite the arrivals of both Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in the recent window, it would appear that Ten Hag’s side are still in need of further options in the centre of the park, particularly amid reports that Brazil international, Fred, could be allowed to depart at the end of the season.
Turning to Zubimendi could well be an astute move as far as the Red Devils are concerned, with the one-cap machine having notably been compared to former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich man Xabi Alonso by journalist Sid Lowe, who also lauded the youngster as a “special” talent.
A “key element” for his current club – in the words of journalist Josh Bunting – the £50k-per-week ace has enjoyed a particularly impressive start to the current campaign, with one goal and two assists in 14 league games from his holding role, having been rewarded with a new long-term deal in October.
It is the playmaker’s defensive prowess that has particularly caught the eye, however, illustrated by the fact that he ranks in the top 6% in Europe for aerial duels won among those in his position, as well as in the top 9% for clearances made.
Such quality was also evident when the two sides met at the Theatre of Dreams earlier this season in the Europa League, with the 5 foot 11 machine helping his side secure a 1-0 victory after notably winning three of his four ground duels and recording five interceptions, while also losing possession on just three occasions from his 56 touches.
Having seen up close just what the San Sebastian-born starlet can bring to the table, Ten Hag would certainly be wise to step his interest in 2023, with Zubimendi’s special qualities potentially set to freshen up United’s midfield ranks.