Manchester United are exploring short-term deals for left-backs in light of Luke Shaw’s injury, which could keep the 28-year-old out for three months.
United are closely guarding the exact nature of Shaw’s muscle problem and the time he may be on the sidelines, but the issue is serious enough for recruitment staff to be weighing up alternatives.
Manager Erik ten Hag said it will “take a few weeks” before Tyrell Malacia is back, too, with the defender missing all of pre-season due to an unspecified injury.
Ten Hag selected Diogo Dalot at left-back against Nottingham Forest, with mixed results. Dalot is capable in the position but United’s manager would like someone more used to operating on the left.
Alvaro Fernandez is an out-and-out left-back and is highly regarded after winning Preston North End’s young player of the year award while on loan last season.
Fernandez went away with United on the pre-season tour of the United States, but it would still be a big step up for the 20-year-old to play regularly in the Premier League. United want him to get frequent game time, however, and have been in talks with La Liga side Granada about a loan.
United have a small budget, so may end up sticking with Dalot and Fernandez while waiting for Shaw and Malacia to recover, but the club are going through a whole host of names as they try to strike a deal before Friday’s 11pm (BST) deadline. This being United, however, there is every chance discussions go right to the wire.
Here are some of the names being spoken about and the chances of them moving to Old Trafford…
The former Barcelona youth player was tracked by United when he was at Brighton & Hove Albion and he has come into the reckoning in this emergency situation because he is out of favour at Stamford Bridge.
Mauricio Pochettino has selected Ben Chilwell at left wing-back and Levi Colwill as left centre-back so far, with Cucurella yet to get any minutes this season. Even left-back Ian Maatsen, 21, has twice come off the bench instead of Cucurella.
Chelsea are open to a loan for a player they only signed last summer for £60million ($75.5m), but the dealbreaker could be the fee. It is said Chelsea want a payment of £7m to let Cucurella go for the season, which is a figure United would not countenance. Negotiations are ongoing, however, as outlined in our live transfer blog.
United have been in touch about Tagliafico, a player Ten Hag signed for Ajax in January 2018 and knows well.
The club were offered the chance to sign him last summer, but he moved to Lyon for €4.2million (£3.6m; $4.5m) before winning the World Cup with Argentina. He played six matches in Qatar, starting the semi-final and final, and is friends with United centre-back Lisandro Martinez.
Lyon are willing to do a deal with United if Tagliafico wants the move but are thought to want a fee or obligation to buy. United are weighing up a formal offer for the Argentine, who turns 31 on Thursday.
Fulham are also interested, but Tagliafico is enjoying his time in France. He has started all three of Lyon’s Ligue 1 games this season, scoring one goal.
Having won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup with Chelsea, Alonso is the most experienced player in English football on United’s list.
Barcelona are open to letting Alonso go, with manager Xavi Hernandez preferring this option to Eric Garcia moving to Girona.
Alonso, who has played one La Liga game out of three so far, is in the last year of a contract worth around £170,000 per week. That kind of salary is expected to be too high for United to cover and, in any case, Alonso would prefer a permanent move with a multi-year contract than a loan.
Tottenham are trying to sell Reguilon and are said to be open to letting him leave on loan without a fee, so long as his wages are covered.
One hurdle, however, is his lucrative salary at Tottenham, having moved to the club from Real Madrid in 2020 after a successful loan at Sevilla.
Reguilon was excellent against United in Sevilla’s Europa League semi-final in the 2019-20 season and was on the radar at Old Trafford, but United went for Alex Telles instead.
Three years on, contact has been made over a potential short-term move.
Thomas may be best known to United fans for scoring a wonder goal at Old Trafford under Brendan Rodgers in May 2021.
He is yet to make it off the bench this season because Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca prefers Callum Doyle, 19, as an inverted full-back. Doyle, ostensibly a centre-back, is on loan from Manchester City, where Maresca was assistant to Pep Guardiola.
Thomas is a low-cost option and Leicester are willing to agree a six-month loan. During his three seasons as an established member of the first-team squad, he started 44 Premier League games and has typically done well against Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who is yet to score when up against him in three meetings.
Bertrand left Leicester after the expiry of his contract in the summer. The cost of any deal for the former England international would only come down to wages, with no transfer fee required.
Bertrand, who came through at Chelsea, has 485 career games to his name, predominantly in the Premier League. He made no appearances last season and only played 11 times in all competitions in the 2021/22 season, after being hampered by a knee injury.
Additional contributors: Mario Cortegana and Adam Crafton
(Top photos: Getty Images)
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Laurie Whitwell worked for the Daily Mail from 2010, covering midlands football for the last five years, including Leicester’s remarkable Premier League triumph. Whitwell was nominated for sports scoop of the year at the 2019 SJAs for breaking Wayne Rooney’s move to DC United. He will be reporting on Manchester United for The Athletic. Follow Laurie on Twitter @lauriewhitwell