Manchester United Transfer News: Sime Vrsaljko Wanted in Squad Overhaul Rumours

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2018

Atletico Madrid's Croatian defender Sime Vrsaljko celebrates after the UEFA Europa League final football match between Olympique de Marseille and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon on May 16, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Manchester United have reportedly already started negotiations with Atletico Madrid for right-back Sime Vrsaljko, as Jose Mourinho wants to sign the 26-year-old for roughly £35 million to kickstart a summer overhaul.

According to the Sunday People's Neil Moxley, Mourinho sees Vrsaljko as a key piece of the puzzle to closing the gap to rivals Manchester City (h/t the Mirror).

On Wednesday, Simon Jones of MailOnline also reported on United's interest in the player. As Tom Coast of Sport Witness shared, other right-backs have been linked with the Red Devils as well:

The Croatia international was part of the rotation in defence for Atletico this season, sharing minutes with Juanfran. The 33-year-old saw more playing time in Europe, but Vrsaljko's minutes increased as the season wore on.

He proved something of a liability on the biggest stage, getting sent off in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals against Arsenal and running into an early booking in the final against Olympique de Marseille. Manager Diego Simeone opted to take him off for Juanfran at half-time in that match.

The former Sassuolo man hasn't been an unquestioned success since moving to the Spanish capital in 2016, but he has steadily improved. As the younger option at the position, he appears to be the future at right-back for the Rojiblancos, with Juanfran getting on in years.

Thibault Camus/Associated Press

Moxley suggested a fee of £35 million, but that seems far too low for a player on a long-term contract who cost the club £14.5 million just two years ago. Atletico are shrewd negotiators and hold all the leverage―they are not going to let the Croat go on the cheap.

Atletico are expected to invest in the position, however, and could opt to part ways with Vrsaljko and couple the experienced Juanfran with a younger player with more upside, such as Real Sociedad's Alvaro Odriozola.

United's best options at the position this season were Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, who are both on the wrong side of 30 and more natural fits further up the pitch. While they performed well, Mourinho needs to add a specialist in his prime who can make an immediate impact.

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