United step up defender chase

eliaquim-mangalaManchester United have stepped up their pursuit of Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, who was scouted for a third time on Sunday as his side faced Gil Vicente in the Portuguese first division.

Mangala has long been on United’s radar, having been scouted when Sir Alex Ferguson was still at the club, but the 23-year-old has also attracted interest from Chelsea and Manchester City, with City almost clinching a deal to bring him and his teammate Fernando to the Etihad during the recent January transfer window but failing at the last minute to push the deal through.

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Having joined the Portuguese giants from Standard Liege for just £6m in 2011, Mangala has since become one of the most promising defenders in Europe and he now has a release clause in his contract worth £35m which one feels United will have to trigger if they’re to secure Mangala’s services.

The French international offers the physical presence United are going to miss now that Nemanja Vidic looks poised to sign a two-year deal with Inter Milan, but at just 23 years of age, the Porto defender can’t be expected to fill the experience gap likely to appear in a back four that could also be without Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand.

Mangala, who can also play at left-back, has featured in 15 league games for Porto this season – picking up six yellow cards in the process, which indicate he possess a rather feisty temperament – and was an ever-present figure in all six Champions League games played by the Portuguese outfit.

If United do indeed have unlimited funds available in the summer, then a sizeable chunk of the budget could be poured into Porto’s coffers for Mangala.

If Mangala were to sign for United he’ll likely be just one piece of United’s rebuilding process to re-enter the Champions League after missing out next season. That is, of course, if United DO miss out on Champions League football next season.

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