Manchester United have suffered a substantial blow in their pursuit of Villarreal defender Pau Torres after a report in Spain revealed a twist in this particular transfer saga.
According to Spanish outlet Sport (as reported by The Express), the Yellow Submarines are unwilling to accept a player-plus-cash deal for the 24-year-old, nor are they willing to negotiate a smaller transfer fee.
This means that United will have to pay Torres’ £55 million buyout clause in full in order to secure his services this summer, something which they may not be able to do.
A new central defender is thought to be high up on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wishlist this summer after the shortcomings of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.
Real Madrid star Raphael Varane has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, but Torres is another key target for the Red Devils.
His natural left-footed nature and blistering pace make him the ideal partner for club captain Harry Maguire in the heart of defence, but this latest revelation will surely leave Solskjaer feeling gutted.
United have already had a £50m bid for Varane turned down in the current window, and news that they’ll have to splash out an even greater fee to prize Torres away from his boyhood club could be a concern.
Matching the Spain international’s release fee would make him the second most expensive defender in the club’s history, and Unai Emery’s men are in no need to sell their prized asset.
Defeating the 20-time English champions in last season’s Europa League final means they’re financially stable, allowing the La Liga outfit to play hardball around the negotiating table.
United conceded the most goals out of the Premier League’s top four in the recently concluded campaign, leaking 12 more efforts than eventual champions Manchester City.
Although bringing in one player won’t be the solution to their defensive woes, the addition of Torres would make a significant difference to their backline.
It remains to be seen whether departing chief executive Ed Woodward and the club’s hierarchy sanction a move for the 6 ft 3 beast, but not having the option to include any fringe players as a sweetener in any potential deal will be a blow to Solskjaer as his club continue to feel the impact of the pandemic on their finances.
The manager will be keen to bring in a top-class defender, but whether the finances are there to allow him to do just that still remains unclear.