But after Liverpool’s interest became clear, reports in Portugal stated that Nunez’s preference was a switch to Anfield and an agreement is now said to be close. The deal may come as a blow to United in their bid to chase down those fighting at the top of the table.
However, Erik ten Hag has far more pressing matters to attend to over paying a near club-record fee for another attacker. Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho make up a strong attacking three while other bargains are available in the market to improve their squad depth
Paying £85m would eat into Ten Hag’s budget when the bigger issue for United is sorting out their midfield and defence. Ten Hag has been in discussions with the United board on his plans for the window and Frenkie de Jong appears to be the main target in midfield.
Another midfielder is also set to be targeted with two signings replacing the departing Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. Full-backs were an important part of Ten Hag’s system at Ajax and he may also want improvements on both flanks.
Another attacker will also likely be signed, with United expected to spend big throughout the window. But conceding defeat to Liverpool in the race for Nunez now allows them to spread that money around for other targets needed in their squad.
Like United, Chelsea have more pressing issues to attend to than spending big on an area of the squad they don’t necessarily need at the moment. With Antonio Rudiger joining Real Madrid and the futures of both Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta uncertain, the defensive unit is in need of a rebuild.
Jules Kounde remains the priority with Sevilla demanding a fee in the region of £50m, but at least one other defender will need to be signed. There has also been plenty of suggestions that Chelsea will look to make improvements in midfield.
Declan Rice has long been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, although West Ham’s asking price is proving too steep at the moment. Ibrahima Sangare has been touted as a potential alternative, with PSV valuing the midfielder at around £30m