The Manchester United manager has said he does not intend to buy another defender but behind the scenes is still working on a deal for the Greek international. Reports now suggest that Jose Mourinho is determined to strengthen his defence with a new centre-back and will be ready to offer Roma £47.6million for Kostas Manolas.
Since moving to the Italian capital from Olympiakos in 2014, the Greek international has improved and matured into one of the top defenders in Europe as he has formed an integral part of Roma’s drive for silverware.
But the Italian outfit, who currently sit just four points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, are reluctant to lose one of their most sought-after assets. Roma will want to keep Manolas tied down at the capital as reports suggested they had rejected an offer made by Mourinho at an initial £32million.
And Roma will test the Portuguese’s resolve – and that of owners of the Glazer family – even more by refusing to budge from their valuation of a massive £52m. The fee would make him the third most-expensive centre-back of all time, behind Manchester City and Chelsea aces John Stones and David Luiz.
With Eric Bailly away on international duty this month at the Africa Cup of Nations and after Rojo picked up an injury in the FA Cup win over Reading at the weekend, Mourinho still has Chris Smalling and Daley Blind to rely on at the back.
Nevertheless, it looks as though he wants a long-term partner for Bailly, and as he continues to strengthen the rearguard of his team, it remains to be seen if United can make a breakthrough with regards to Manolas and take the 25-year-old to Old Trafford before the end of the month.
Whether it is the argument that the form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo has changed Mourinho’s mindset or that United can make do until the end of the season, speculation linking the Premier League giants with a move for a defender isn’t going away.