Manchester United go cold on signing Chelsea star over fears of copying Arsenal’s Willian mistake

The Red Devils are wary of handing lucrative deals to ageing players (Pictures: Getty)

Manchester United have gone cold on a swoop for Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante over fears they could be walking into a Willian-shaped mistake, according to reports.

New boss Erik ten Hag is keen to strengthen his midfield this summer and wants to sign both a defence-orientated holding midfielder and a more attack-minded playmaker to replace Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba respectively.

Frenkie de Jong – who played under the new United boss at Ajax – is Ten Hag’s top choice for the more offensive role, though the Barcelona star says he would ‘prefer to stay’ at Camp Nou.

Ten Hag wants a defensive midfielder and Kante could be available (Picture: Getty)


For the defensive role, the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice have been linked with United, though the latter will be too expensive and the former is unwilling to leave Leeds for their biggest rivals.

That has seen Kante come into the picture as a potential option, with the 31-year-old out of contract next summer and Chelsea rumoured to be willing to cash in on both the Frenchman and fellow contract rebel Jorginho.

But, after some initial interest in signing the World Cup winner, The Telegraph claim United’s hierarchy are now distancing themselves from a move.

The club, along with Ten Hag, want to change the profile of players they target and Kante does not exactly fit the young, hungry mould they are looking for.

Moreover, Arsenal’s decision to sign Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea has been cited around Old Trafford as an example of the ‘pitfalls’ associated with signing high-profile, veteran players on big wages.

The Brazilian was handed a three-year deal worth around £240,000-a-week but left the club just 12 months into his contract by mutual consent, ripping up his deal to re-join Corinthians after ‘the worst time that he had lived as a professional’.

The 33-year-old was one of Arsenal’s highest earners but started just 16 Premier League matches, scoring only once.


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