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Manchester United Edge Closer To Signing Their First January Target With Release Clause Of £75m

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FUTEBOL - lindelof no benfica Nacional no jogo da 3 fase, 1 jornada do grupo B da Taca da liga no estadio da Luz em Lisboa Terca 29 de Dezembro 2015. (ASF/ANDRE ALVES)

Manchester United moved a step closer to signing £38million rated Benfica defender Victor Lindelof this week after a delegation from the Portuguese club flew to England for talks. Old Trafford chief Ed Woodward was in Manchester to open negotiations with the Benfica party over a deal for Lindelhof in the January transfer window.

Manager Jose Mourinho is keen to strengthen in central defence despite the impact made by £30m summer signing Eric Bailly – who will be on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations next month – and return to form and fitness of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in recent weeks.

Jose Mourinho has been unable to truly rely on his defenders since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer but United scouts have made regular checks on Lindelof, 22, this season. Mourinho is also aware that other European clubs are also tracking the Sweden international and wants to sign him now rather than wait until the summer.

The Red Devils have also been linked with Southampton defender Jose Fonte, however, Lindelof remains their primary target.

But Benfica would rather keep Lindelof after qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League where they face Borussia Dortmund, and are demanding £38m for a player who has emerged as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe since moving to Portugal from Swedish club Vasteras in 2012.

Even former Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich talked up his countryman last month by claiming he’s ready to make the step up for a ‘big club’.

Lindelof has a buy-out clause of £75m, but United expect to sign him for significantly less with almost half the price at £37 million with the additional ad-ons depending on how well the Swede fares at his new club.