Man Utd may be using Marc Cucurella as a smokescreen for a different signing

Football Digest: Analysing Man Utd's failed recruitment

Manchester United have identified Chelsea left-back Marc Cucurella as their priority target to cover the injured Luke Shaw this summer, according to reports. But the interest in the Blues outcast could be a smokescreen for a different signing as Erik ten Hag weighs up his latest Old Trafford reunion.

The Athletic report that United are in talks with Chelsea over a season-long loan after Ten Hag landed on Cucurella as a good fit for his system.

Chelsea have allegedly demanded a £7million loan fee, which the Red Devils are looking to compromise over in line with their FFP-impacted budget.

But it’s claimed that five other left-backs are in the frame, with the position now high among Ten Hag’s priorities in anticipation of going without Shaw for months.

Sergio Reguilon, Marcos Alonso, Luke Thomas and Ryan Bertrand are under consideration, as is former Ajax star Nicolas Tagliafico.

The Athletic claim that despite the smoke steaming from links with Cucurella, United have been in contact over Tagliafico.

Ten Hag signed the 30-year-old for Ajax in 2018 and struck up a positive working relationship across their four years together in Amsterdam.

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United were offered the chance to sign Tagliafico when hunting for a left-back last summer but opted for Feyenoord’s Tyrell Malacia before Lyon completed a £3.6m deal for the Argentine.

He has since lifted the World Cup with Lisandro Martinez in Qatar and is enjoying his stint in France, starting all three of Lyon’s Ligue 1 games this term.

The French outfit are said to be willing to offload Tagliafico – who turns 31 on Thursday – but would want a loan fee or obligation to buy.

Fulham have also been credited with an interest, but Tagliafico’s desire to move to England remains to be seen.

United moving for an older, more budget-friendly option that Cucurella would make sense, given Malacia’s injury layoff is expected to be shorter than Shaw’s.

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The No 23’s prolonged absence appears to open the door of opportunity for Malacia, who spent last season as his backup.

But while he is also sidelined through injury, Ten Hag seems unconvinced by the option of using Diogo Dalot or Alvaro Fernandez until Malacia’s return.

If negotiations with Chelsea hit a standstill, Tagliafico could become a more serious option for a late switch to M16.

Or United may be closing in already, using Cucurella to ensure they have the jump on Fulham and other rival suitors.

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