Manchester United almost seems certain of having switched their attention from Benfica defender Victor Lindelof to Roma defender Kostas Manolas. Benfica being unable to complete the transfer of Lindelof turned to the saga into a protracted one. Meanwhile, it also allowed United to take a good look at the combination of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. Since the likes of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly are yet to return to the first-team, it has made United extremely strong in this regard.
Even after his return from injury, Smalling has been unable to make his way into the starting lineup and there are rumours about the England international being sold sometime in the future. However, it would depend on United getting Manolas from Roma.
The 25-year-old Greek international is valued at around £50 million by the Italian club. This extremely high valuation appears to have not deterred United from chasing the defender, but it now appears that the club will have a competition to contend with. Arsenal have entered into the race for the defender, according to latest reports from the Daily Mirror (via Corriere della Sera).
Manolas has been a major factor behind Roma competing for the league title in the last few years. Even though they have been unsuccessful at removing Juventus from their perch, Roma have at least been qualifying regularly for the Champions League during this period. Regular Champions League football has allowed the club to attract top players and also retain the best names. Their insane valuation of Manolas is one of the ways to keep competition at bay. Manolas has featured in the Italian Serie A 17 times this season scoring one goal.
Interestingly, Arsenal are not taking a look at Manolas for the first time, as the Greek international was reportedly a transfer target for Arsene Wenger even in the summer. The club decided to opt for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi instead. Mustafi came to the Emirates stadium in a whopping £35 million deal from the Spanish club and he has so far not put a foot wrong. The interest from Arsenal may not be to replace Mustafi, but potentially do away with Per Mertesacker in the summer. The German international has not been a first-team regular this season.
The competition from Arsenal could be a game changer considering that the Gunners have not spent significant amounts of their transfer kitty, which still remains strong. A signing like Manolas would also improve one of the weakest aspects of Arsenal – defence. United have conceded two goals less than Arsenal despite sitting two places behind the Gunners. Manolas is likely to be spoilt for choice with the kind of offers on his table.