Manchester United Transfer News: Juan Cuadrado Blow, Latest on Mehdi Benatia

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2014

VERONA, ITALY - APRIL 13:  Juan Cuadrado of ACF Fiorentina  gestures during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona FC and ACF Fiorentina at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on April 13, 2014 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Manchester United's hopes of signing Juan Cuadrado have taken a subtle blow after the Colombian winger was named in Fiorentina's friendly squad to face Arezzo.

Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio confirmed Cuadrado's participation in Monday's match, which comes after the player was left out of the Viola squad that beat Real Madrid on Saturday.

His place back in the side arrives after Barcelona were said to have dropped their interest, per Spanish publication Sport (via Vaishali Bhardwaj of the Metro). While this story also links United to the versatile speedster, it's unlikely Vincenzo Montella would begin integrating Cuadrado into his plans if a sale was imminent.

Despite offering versatile quality as a winger, full-back and supporting forward, Cuadrado's potential price tag is likely to have seen interest lower. A fee of €50 million has been quoted throughout the summer, an extortionate amount when considering it is likely now or never for Cuadrado to secure a big-money move.

He played excellently during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, meaning Fiorentina must capitalise on his reputation as it stands. The aforementioned sum is far too much—this is a player who has little experience outside Serie A—and underlines a team who are looking to make a quick fortune on the back of the summer's tournament.

Cuadrado's participation in the pre-season fixture suggests interest has significantly dropped across recent weeks. Although United desperately need reinforcements and may be willing to overspend after their opening-day Premier League defeat to Swansea, Cuadrado isn't worth paying a club-record fee for.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 2: Defender Mehdi Benatia #17 of AS Roma participates in the match against FC Internazionale Milano during the International Champions Cup on August 2, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitc
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Sticking with the Italian division, United are more likely to be comfortable paying £30 million for Roma's Mehdi Benatia, per Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, who reports talks between the two clubs.

The Daily Mirror's Neil McLeman claims United and Chelsea have until Friday to strike an agreement over the transfer fee for the player.

Benatia is almost an essential purchase after United lined up with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and 20-year-old Tyler Blackett against Swansea. That said, Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News tweets a familiar story for United fans:

Marcos Rojo would be settling for second best in a situation where United could really use both players. Even so, the Argentinian is adept in a left-back or centre-back role and would provide Louis van Gaal options to expand his 3-5-2 formation.

Rojo recently apologised for refusing to train with his Sporting Lisbon team-mates and said he would be back in training on Monday, per Sky Sports.

United appear backed into something of a dead end at this point. Van Gaal's squad is seriously devoid of quality—notice the lack of offers for United players this summer—but he needs to quickly improve the team with a handful of stars.

Cuadrado, Benatia and Rojo would collectively sharpen things up while adding strength in depth.

The club's link to Philippe Mexes, reported by Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia), will have fans worried. United don't need slow, ageing, ill-disciplined centre-backs; fresh blood and players who have something to prove should be top priority.

Two weeks remain in a transfer window that is shaping up to be a nightmare for everyone involved at United.

How the squad was left to sink this far is a worrying mystery, but United fans will be celebrating the Swansea loss if it forces the club's hierarchy into finally addressing deficiencies that are becoming more and more obvious with every performance.


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