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Man Utd ramp up interest in Villarreal winger reminding young Ronaldo

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Manchester United are looking to add to their attacking options with a swoop for Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze.

The Nigerian is only 21 years old, but has already been capped 15 times by the Super Eagles, as well as appearing 84 times for Villarreal’s first team, scoring 12 times. The La Liga side scouted him playing youth football in his home country with Diamond Football Academy, pushing him through their B team in 2017/18 before his progression to the senior ranks a year later.

The release clause in the youngster’s contract is reported by 90 Minutes to be around £80m (€88m), which may rule some of the chasing clubs out of the race. However, as one of the leading teams not only in England but also Europe, Manchester United may be able to meet that fee as they hunt the same level of success they once enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson. With that in mind, Solskjaer could find in Chukwueze exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson once found in Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently in charge at Old Trafford, but he has suffered an indifferent start to the season. Fine Champions League wins over Red Bull Leipzig and Paris St Germain were overshadowed by a horrible defeat against Istanbul Basaksehir, which threatens what seemed like a great chance of making the next round. Domestically, they have also struggled to make an impact, and defeats against Arsenal and Crystal Palace, as well as a 6-1 humbling at home against Tottenham, have left them trailing the early pacesetters.

They are not the only Premier League side to be watching Chukwueze, with both Everton and Leicester City credited as both being in the hunt for his services. Everton are amongst those teams impressing in the early weeks of the Premier League, buoyed by the capture of former Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, and Napoli enforcer Allan.

Leicester went into November two points ahead of Everton and just one behind leaders Liverpool, as they continue to impress following their unlikely title win a few years ago. The Foxes’ title triumph was described by Gala Bingo as one of the best winning moments of 2016 in the UK, and despite remaining a selling club during that period they remain at the right end of the table. Over the past few seasons, they have sold stars such as Ben Chilwell, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Harry Maguire, but have always reinvested the money wisely. The pace and direct running of Chukwueze would certainly fit their ethos, complementing Jamie Vardy perfectly, and despite being a smaller club than Manchester United in terms of stature, there is a very real chance the winger would challenge for trophies at the King Power Stadium more regularly than at Old Trafford.

One thing United do have is that allure and buying power than many clubs do not. Everton and Leicester may well be in the top three or four teams in the early running, but Manchester United are a worldwide institution. There is a pressure that comes with signing for them, a demand for good performances and consistency, but when a player gets it right, they can elevate their career beyond expected levels.

Indeed, one only must look at Cristiano Ronaldo, who arrived at Manchester United an exciting young prospect, just as Chukwueze is now. By the time he left, he was a world-class superstar and household name. That type of profile might give the Red Devils the edge in any potential transfer for the Villarreal star.

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