Manchester United prepared to activate £87m release clause to sign Antonio Silva with Benfica star ready to leave
United are not the only club interested...
Manchester United are desperate to sign Benfica defender Antonio Silva and are prepared to activate his €100million (£86.7m) release clause to bring him to Old Trafford.
The 20-year-old centre-half is among the defensive options United have been keeping tabs on, tracking Silva’s progress since breaking into the first-team at the start of last season.
Signing a new centre-half is thought to be among United’s priorities in 2024.
Silva has a number of admirers across Europe with Real Madrid and Chelsea also among the clubs monitoring his progress but according to Sky Sports Germany, United are intent on signing him and are willing to match his release clause.
Benfica believe Silva will remain at the club until the end of the season but would be powerless to prevent him leaving in January were his release clause to be met.
The Portuguese giants lost Enzo Fernandez in similar circumstances during the last January transfer window when Chelsea came in with their offer.
Silva has emerged as one of Europe’s best young defensive talents with United viewing him as ‘their absolute dream player’.
The Portugal international now wants to leave Benfica, according to the report and is currently under contract until 2027.
It remains to be seen what United can spend in January, however. Reports have suggested the club will be limited to cut-price or loan deals in January due to financial fair play restrictions, with the situation also complicated by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to acquire 25 per cent of the club.
Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane formed a formidable partnership at centre-half last season but the Argentina international is currently sidelined having undergone surgery on his foot for the second time this year.
Varane meanwhile has fallen out of favour at Old Trafford, starting just one of their last nine games with reports suggesting his relationship with Erik ten Hag has broken down.
Harry Maguire has forced his way back into the side, reforming his old partnership with Victor Lindelof with 35-year-old Jonny Evans given game time ahead of Varane when fit this season.
In addition to Silva, United are also interested in signing his Benfica teammate Joao Neves, the talented midfielder who has filled the void left by Fernandez’s departure.
The 19-year-old has a release clause of £105m in his contract.
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