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Five January signings Man United could make to kickstart the INEOS era

Manchester United are set for fresh investment as British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS group finalise a minority acquisition of the club.

Ratcliffe expects his deal to buy 25% of the Red Devils to be formally completed next month, though is pushing ahead with plans to rebuild the side. United are seventh in the Premier League table after a challenging campaign under Erik ten Hag to date, eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

We look at five potential January signings Manchester United could make to kickstart the INEOS era.

Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice)

Manchester United were linked with a move to Todibo in the summer transfer window and interest remains in the French centre-back. Spurs tried to sign the 23-year-old late last month but turned their attention to Radu Dragusin as talks with the Ligue 1 outfit failed to find a breakthrough.

Nice are determined to keep Todibo until the end of the current campaign, though an offer north of £40m could tempt them into a sale. Francesco Farioli’s side are second in France’s top tier at present and boasts the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 11 times in 18 games so far this season.

Todibo, who made his senior debut for France in the autumn, has been central to those defensive performances. He ranks in the top 10% of central defenders in Europe’s top five leagues for attempted passes, successful take-ons and tackles per 90 minutes across the last 12 months.

Negotiations could be straightforward, with Ratcliffe and INEOS also owners of Nice.

Goncalo Inacio (Sporting Lisbon)

Goncalo Inacio is another centre-back who has been linked with Old Trafford, as a number of Europe’s top clubs consider activating his release clause at Sporting Lisbon.

Inacio signed a new deal with the Portuguese league leaders in September, though his increased release clause of €60m (£51.6m) still appears value for a defender rich in potential. The 22-year-old leads Portugal’s Primeira Liga for touches, passes into the final third, progressive carrying distance and successful take-on percentage this season while ranking fifth for progressive passes.

With doubts over the long-term futures of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof, central defence is an area in need of reinforcement in the coming transfer windows. Inacio is both an attainable and attractive option, given his promise and release clause.

Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)

Bayer Leverkusen face a fight to retain the services of Jeremie Frimpong in the upcoming transfer windows, following his evolution into one of the most effective wing-backs in Europe.

Frimpong has gone from strength to strength since joining Leverkusen from Celtic in January 2021 and was named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in 2022/23. This season, the Dutchman has recorded five goals and six assists in 17 league appearances for Leverkusen, a return which has helped Xabi Alonso’s side into title contention.

Leverkusen are unbeaten in the league and lead Bayern Munich in the race for a maiden Bundesliga crown, which could make a deal difficult this month. However, Frimpong has a release clause of just €40m (£34m) that becomes active in the summer and Leverkusen could sell should an offer in excess of that figure arrive in January.

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Frimpong would provide attacking impetus from full-back that has been sorely lacking from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot.

Amadou Onana (Everton)

Everton’s financial issues have raised the prospect of a big-name sale to ease concerns, with both Amadou Onana and Jarrad Branthwaite linked with Old Trafford.

The former is valued at around £60m and also has interest from Arsenal among other clubs, given his promising performances in the Premier League. Onana is an all-action midfielder with dynamism and presence, attributes missing from the Manchester United midfield for much of the campaign.

Casemiro’s drop-off and fitness problems have weakened the spine of the side, while Scott McTominay continues to be a decisive figure. At 22, Onana could be the long-term solution to United’s soft centre.

Serhou Guirassy (Stuttgart)

Serhou Guirassy’s remarkable feats in the Bundesliga this season have placed the forward in demand.

Guirassy has scored 17 goals in just 12 league starts for Stuttgart this season, form which has transformed the German side from relegation candidates into Champions League contenders.

Only Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappe and Lautaro Martinez have outscored the Guinea goal-getter across Europe’s top five leagues this season, while a bargain release clause of €17.5m (£15m) has made Guirassy a transfer target for a whole host of clubs.

Rasmus Hojlund has found form in recent weeks, but the addition of a more experienced alternative would boost Manchester United’s hopes of re-entering the top-four race. The 27-year-old Guirassy, in form and affordable, looks an ideal option.

Any move would have to wait until the conclusion of Guinea’s Africa Cup of Nation campaign.

Read – Four in-form players pushing for England’s Euro 2024 squad

See more – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 21 (1)

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