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Manchester United face troublesome hurdles in their crucial search for a new defensive midfielder this summer, with the club’s shortlist of targets dwindling. The Red Devils’ most recent problem comes in the form of frustrating yet unsurprising rejection from Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips.
According to MailSport, Phillips will snub any attempt by United to secure his services because of his loyalty to his hometown club. The Leeds born-and-bred midfielder, who lives in the city centre, would be opposed to joining the Old Trafford giants because he’s fully aware of the two clubs’ bitter rivalry.
United had eyed a £60million deal for Phillips in the summer transfer window as Erik ten Hag eyes a defensive midfielder to start his rebuild. But the 26-year-old has informed Leeds he wants to extend his contract at Elland Road as they edge closer to Premier League survival.
After establishing himself as a top-flight player and England regular, Phillips is expected to demand fresh terms in excess of £100,000-a-week. If Leeds can’t afford his salary, they could listen to offers around £60m, likely interesting previous suitors West Ham United, whilst Aston Villa and Newcastle United are also keeping tabs.
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But Phillips has no interest in joining United, and he might not be the first player of his ilk Ten Hag will miss out on this summer. Another growing uncertainty is Declan Rice, who West Ham value at north of £100m. His fee and United’s likely lack of Champions League football would make a switch almost impossible.
Rice has been at the summit of the club’s midfielder shortlist for years as he’s flourished into one of Europe’s best and West Ham captain. But a deal is unlikely, and Liverpool’s emergence in the Aurelien Tchouameni conversation has also prompted uncertainty.
Earlier this week, reports suggested Liverpool were plotting a move for the AS Monaco powerhouse. And with Real Madrid widely considered to be the frontrunners, United’s absence from the Champions League could only boost their outsider status.
It’s imperative Ten Hag secures a defensive-midfield signing to build his team around this summer, and circumstances could force the Red Devils to look elsewhere from their three main targets. Wolves’ Ruben Neves has regularly been mentioned ahead of his expected summer exit, with Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara, previously linked, available as a free agent.
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