Ed Woodward could make Jules Kounde Man Utd transfer sacrifice to sign Erling Haaland

Manchester United are unlikely to sign multiple £60million to £70m players in the upcoming transfer window and could move away from Jules Kounde if the chance to sign Erling Haaland arises, it has been claimed.

United are expected to secure a top-four finish to make sure of Champions League football at Old Trafford this season and currently sit second, six points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea.

The Red Devils have only lost one of their last 19 Premier League matches and can also still win silverware through the Europa League and or FA Cup.

United’s hierarchy will meanwhile begin to plan for next season and beyond as they look to capitalise on their progress this term.

While they currently lie 10 points off of leaders Manchester City, it is an improvement for United given they finished 33 points behind Liverpool when they were champions last term.

And top targets have already been established as United look to strengthen in two key areas.

Their title hopes this term have been undermined by defensive struggles with only Liverpool (34) and Everton (33), of the league’s top nine, conceding more than United (32 in 25 games).

United want a long-term partner for centre-back and captain Harry Maguire and after cooling interest in Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano, are huge admirers of Sevilla’s Kounde, formerly heavily linked to neighbours Manchester City.

Solskjaer also wants to bolster up top and Borussia Dortmund prodigy Haaland is the dream recruit and the Norwegian coach knows his compatriot well having managed him at Molde.

David Ornstein, discussing United’s plans for the summer on The Athletic’s Ask Ornstein show, insists it is unlikely they will pursue deals for both Haaland and Kounde in the same window.

And with Haaland one of Europe’s most prized targets, transfer chief Ed Woodward could opt for a cheaper centre-half alternative to Kounde if United have a shot of signing the 20-year-old free-scoring striker.

Ornstein said: “Among the priorities are a striker and a centre-back. It’s been explained for me to a while that United are very closely looking at both areas.

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“A lot of this will be determined by targets, finances, need, availability etc. I’ve been told that if they decide it’s a centre-back they really need to go for, for example, that’s going to take a huge amount of money so perhaps in the striking department the need won’t go away but it might be a more cost-effective developing player.

“On the flip side if it’s the striker, whether that’s Erling Haaland or somebody else, that’s going to cost a huge amount of money if it was Haaland because he’s not got a clause until 2022 so Dortmund may decide this is the summer they can get the most amount of money for him.

“Then United might look at their other positions and say the centre-back might need to be a more developing cost-effective player. It’s similar in some of those other target areas.

“I don’t think United are going to go around splashing £60-70m on multiple players. It might be one and then some creative solutions in those other roles in what we must stress is a pandemic-affected market.

“It’s an ongoing financial crisis and the owners of any club can’t spend money that they don’t have.”

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The Athletic’s United correspondent Laurie Whitwell added: “Erling Haaland is definitely one I think Solskjaer would have above all others.

“Any other position, any other player, I think he’d be the one. We know what happened last time with the agent demands and United saying no to any kind of release clause.

“That’s something Dortmund are now having to deal with. They’ve got a good run out of him for goals and assists so maybe they feel it’s money well spent and they’ll get a profit on him but United couldn’t put themselves in that position where a player might move on in 18 months’ time.

“That being said if they could do a deal now I’m sure they would look to add in the squad, he’s the player they feel they can build around for the next five or six years but they can’t be so myopic on a player, they need to have alternative targets.

“Haaland will be the subject of interest. Manchester City’s interest is a serious one. Can United compete when it comes to City for funds and wages? It’d be an interesting battle.”

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