Manchester United have stepped up their pursuit of Torino forward Andrea Belotti following a season-ending injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, The Mirror claims. However, the 23-year-old will not come for cheap, as he is expected to cost £84 million – if United are to meet his release clause.
The Red Devils had been counting a lot on the presence of Ibrahimovic for next season. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign, but the club have reportedly discussed a potential extension. Now that he is effectively ruled out of 2017 following a cruciate ligament injury, United will have to look for options elsewhere.
The club has been linked heavily with Antoine Griezmann, but it appears that they have switched their focus towards Andrea Belotti. The physical stature of the Torino forward appears to have made him the first choice ahead of Antoine Griezmann, who is certainly not the type of a player to lead the line on his own. Griezmann will also cost in the region of £85 million if United decide to activate his release clause.
Torino were aware of the growing interest surrounding Belotti, and the club promptly offered him a new deal. His new contract – signed in the first week of December – runs until 2021, thus putting the Italian Serie A outfit in an extremely strong position when it comes to negotiating any transfer fees. Belotti has quickly grown into one of the top centre forwards in European football. He has scored an astonishing 25 goals in 30 league appearances. There have also been five assists along the way.
Manchester United need a forward of this stature in order to find a way back to the top four. With Ibrahimovic ruled out for the rest of the year and Wayne Rooney expected to leave the club in the summer, United are desperately short of options up front. Since the future of both these players is now under doubt, it will not be surprising to see United sign at least two forwards in the summer.
Belotti came to Turin as an £8 million signing from Palermo in the summer of 2015. Last season, he managed a respectable 12 goals in 35 league outings.