Manchester United are ready to rival Barcelona for the signing of Villarreal and Spain midfielder Alex Baena, according to reports.
Baena, 22, has a €60 million release clause at Villarreal, which was increased from just €35m at the start of 2023 amid rumours of interest from other clubs.
The midfielder scored on his senior Spain debut during their 6-0 win over Cyprus in the September international break and already has one goal and three assists in the 2023-24 La Liga campaign.
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His form at the start of the new season has reportedly attracted interest from Man Utd as they prepare for Jadon Sancho’s exit.
The Englishman has been banished from Man Utd first-team training following a bust-up with manager Erik ten Hag and he is expected to push for a departure during the January transfer window.
Barcelona are one of the clubs to have registered an interest in signing Sancho this winter, although it remains to be seen if they would be able to afford to sign the former Borussia Dortmund star.
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Man Utd face competition for Baena
One player the Blaugrana are most certainly keen on signing is Baena, with Xavi a huge admirer of the 22-year-old. According to Mundo Deportivo, the idea of adding Baena to the Barca squad is an attractive one and something that Xavi will look to pursue.
The Spanish giants signed both Oriol Romeu and Ilkay Gundogan this summer, while Joao Felix also joined, albeit on loan.
As a result, Man Utd face serious competition for Baena’s signature as they look to add the versatile Spaniard to their squad. El Nacional have reported that Ten Hag is keen on signing the Villarreal star to bolster the options available to him.
Baena is capable of operating as left winger or in midfield, with most of his best work coming from central areas.
Villarreal, however, are set to demand that his €60m release clause is paid and are unwilling to let Baena leave for cheap. His current Expected Transfer Value (xTV) is just €17.9m.