Manchester United are to rival Barcelona to sign Real Sociedad star Martin Zubimendi, according to reports.
Going into the World Cup break the Red Devils were in resurgent form under Erik ten Hag.
Although the Cristiano Ronaldo soap opera has dominated the back pages, in recent weeks ten Hag’s side have managed to make ground on their top-four rivals.
Despite an abysmal start to the campaign, the Old Trafford side now sit in fifth, just three points from the Champions League places.
However, If ten Hag’s side are to continue their push for the top four after the World Cup they will likely need to do some January business.
Man Utd in for Zubimendi
One player believed to be of interest to Man Utd is Real Sociedad midfielder Zubimendi, though they will need to battle La Liga giants Barcelona to secure the 23-year-old’s signature.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barca manager Xavi is known to be a big admirer of the midfielder, but Man Utd will now look to make a move of their own.
The publication states that ten Hag is “following” the progress of the Spain international. However, Zubimendi only recently extended his Real Sociedad contract until 2027, which now includes a €60million (£51million) release clause.
The clause is said to increase to €65million (£56million) for the winter market, which will likely rule out a January move for the player.
Mundo insists that the La Liga side are determined to stand firm over that release clause.
The new Xabi Alonso
Zubimendi is constantly compared to Alonso. The player joined the Real Sociedad academy aged 12, as Alonso had done 12 years earlier.
Before that Zubimendi played at local club Antiguoko, where Alonso had also played. Both are midfielders, both play in a similar style too.
When the Guardian’s Sid Lowe asked Zubimendi about the Alonso comparisons, the player said: “He’s an idol, a role model, so I’m delighted that he says nice things about me.
“Thing is, I think it’s the other way round. I get asked about him so much he must get bored of hearing me talk about him. He’ll be tired of me going on about how good he is.”
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