It’s never easy to be the makeweight in a transfer, but this is no ordinary transfer. And this is no ordinary makeweight. Nothing is ever simple when it comes to Manchester United in the transfer market, and that looks set to have a major bearing on the best odds on Paulo Dybala leaving Juventus in the current window.
United look set to be in the market for a forward this summer, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer happy to let Romelu Lukaku leave Old Trafford. Inter Milan have dragged their heels over the big Belgian, who Antonio Conte is desperate to sign, having missed out on him as Chelsea boss two years ago.
Somehow, despite the explosion in the transfer market later on that summer, Inter believe Lukaku has depreciated significantly in value. The Nerazzuri are unwilling to get anywhere near United’s valuation of around £80m, after the Red Devils paid Everton an initial £75m for Lukaku, with add-ons taking the fee to £90m – some of which have already been settled.
Inter’s hesitation has allowed Juve into the picture, with the Old Lady believing Lukaku, at 26, can perform a similar role to the 33-year-old Mario Mandzukic. Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly concluded that Lukaku will work as a foil for his own goal-hungry style of play, and Maurizio Sarri is looking to install the Belgian as the central striker in his rigid 4-3-3 formation.
Lukaku’s arrival would mean even less game time for Dybala, who was often left out of the starting line-up last season following the capture of Ronaldo. The Argentine is far too talented to sit on the bench though, as he showed with his performance at Old Trafford in the Champions League last term.
Tottenham were credited with making a bold bid for Dybala last week, but now it seems United have moved into pole position. The 25-year-old would bring some much-needed creativity to Solskjaer’s forward line, which besides Juan Mata, offers precious little aside from pace and direct running at present. It would also surely be viewed as a major coup on behalf on United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, especially if he can secure a bit of cash on top of Dybala for the unwanted Lukaku.
There are concerns about a lack of Champions League football in the Dybala camp, but the Argentine could expect a pay rise and the guarantee of many more minutes than in Turin. With former United legend Patrice Evra reportedly phoning his old team mate Dybala to convince him to move to Old Trafford, the Reds are 1/3 to land his signature before the English transfer window slams shut on Thursday 8 August, the day before the Premier League season begins.
However, reports in Italy have suggested that Inter have brought themselves into contention, and the Milan side could be well worth a punt at 25/1 to sign Dybala. Abandoning their plan to bring in Lukaku, Conte’s side are said to have proposed a swap deal of their own, with fellow Argentine Mauro Icardi heading to the Allianz Stadium.
As for Tottenham, they’re still second favourites to sign Dybala at 6/1, while Bayern Munich come next at 20/1. The Bundesliga outfit are in need of replacements in their forward line after the departures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and could turn their attention to Dybala if their move for Manchester City winger Leroy Sane fails.