Manchester United join £52m race as agent admits Liverpool interest

Manchester United join £52m race as agent admits Liverpool interest

Manchester United have reportedly joined Premier League rivals in the race to sign Sporting star Manuel Ugarte and could offer the Uruguay international a long-term contract and a substantial pay rise. 

If you have no idea what to expect from the 22-year-old midfielder, just one simple statistic should tell you a lot about a man who, if he was to arrive at Old Trafford, would become Manchester United’s fourth Uruguayan player after Diego Forlan, Facundo Pellistri, Guillermo Varela and Edinson Cavani.

Manuel Ugarte averaged six tackles per game in the 2022/23 Europa League (WhoScored). The most in the competition, and it’s not even close. His 3.9 average in domestic action, meanwhile, once again places Ugarte top of the pile.

A staggering tally of 16 yellow cards in all competitions may suggest that Ugarte could stand to work on his timing.

But with Erik ten Hag admitting that Man United struggled during Casemiro’s time out of the team through suspension, it’s impossible not to see the Montevideo-born 22-year-old as someone capable of providing back-up for – all the while learning from – arguably the finest defensive midfielder of his generation.

David Neres of SL Benfica (R) with Manuel Ugarte of Sporting
Photo by David Martins/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Manchester United can sign another Casemiro in Manuel Ugarte

A Bola, via Noticias ao Minuto, say that Manchester United have ‘entered the race’ for Ugarte. Liverpool and Aston Villa are also keen. Fabrizio Romano, meanwhile, reports that Mauricio Pochettino has given the green light for Chelsea to make a move for their own.

United, however, have a rather obvious advantage in the shape of Champions League football. A Bola add that the Red Devils will also attempt to win over Ugarte by offering him a long-term contract. One complete with a high salary. 

The former Famalicao youngster – who has stepped in brilliantly for Fulham’s Joao Palhinha at Sporting – has a £53 million release clause in his contract (Daily Mail).

A substantial fee, of course. But far less than United would have to pay for the likes of Declan Rice or Moises Caicedo.

“It’s almost certain that he won’t stay (at Sporting). It’s sure he will leave,” Jorge Chijane, who will work with super-agent Jorge Mendes during discussions over Ugarte’s future, recently told O Jogo.

“Soon I’ll be in Lisbon. I trust Jorge Mendes, who is the best agent in the world.”

Chijane, meanwhile, seemed to confirm Liverpool’s interest in a man who shone as Sporting knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League in the spring.

“Liverpool? There is a lot of talk, but they are not the only club (interested). There are others. There’s a lot of talk. But I am still not sure about the club (which Ugarte will join),” the agent adds.

“There are many offers on the table.”

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