Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho reportedly on a collision course with former club Chelsea and Manchester City over the signature of young Sao Paulo defender Eder Militao.
Darren Lewiss of the Mirror reported Chelsea have joined the hunt for the 20-year-old, who can play in a number of positions and is said to have attracted United’s and the Blues’ attention due to his versatility.
As well as being capable at right-back and in central defence, Militao featured in defensive midfield several times during Sao Paulo’s 2017 Brasileiro Serie A campaign.
According to Lewis’ report, Militao is valued at £20 million and has been earmarked by City manager Pep Guardiola as a priority signing, although Paulo Freitas, head Brazilian researcher for Football Manager, said no move has been made:
That will be a relief to suitors United and Chelsea, who might struggle to convince a young Brazilian to turn down the Etihad Stadium after seeing compatriots like Ederson, Fernandinho, Danilo and Gabriel Jesus excel at City.
United are said to be searching for an upgraded centre-back partner for Eric Bailly, but Militao seems too young and inexperienced to be considered for that role. The Red Devils could also have it in mind to groom him as an eventual successor to Antonio Valencia on the right flank.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have come to adopt a three-man defensive line under Antonio Conte with wing-backs in front of them. It’s a system that could suit Militao in the same way it does Cesar Azpilicueta, a full-back-turned-central star.
Football Radars showed evidence the youngster particularly excelled in dribbling during the last Brasileiro season, although it’s worth taking into account the majority of his campaign saw him play at right-back:
Mourinho already has two aspiring prospects in Timothy Fosu-Mensah—on loan at Crystal Palace—and Axel Tuanzebe, who was farmed to Aston Villa this term, both of whom can play on the right.
Despite any desire to invest in youth, however, blogger Liam Canning suggested now is the time to buy big in an effort to guarantee success, spending on par with the riches Manchester City have invested in their back line recently:
Centre-back Aymeric Laporte was the latest defensive splurge and cost City £57 million in January, and many at Old Trafford might argue more signings on that level would cut the distance in the Premier League title race.
Militao doesn’t fit that bill, but the youngster is attracting the attention of England’s powerhouses, along with Porto and Borussia Dortmund less than one year after making his senior debut.