Man United have unexpected secret weapon in Manuel Ugarte transfer race

Manuel Ugarte
-Credit: (Image: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Manchester United may be the best-positioned club to sign Manuel Ugarte this summer despite past interest from their Premier League counterparts.

Ugarte, 23, appeared set to become a Chelsea player last year before Paris Saint-Germain gazumped them by offering more lucrative terms to the Uruguay international. The West London club responded by recruiting Lesley Ugochukwu, Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, so they now seem well-stocked in central midfield.

Liverpool were also linked, as the player's Uruguayan agent Jorge Chijane acknowledged 12 months ago. But Alexis MacAllister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo have all arrived at Anfield since then.

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That leaves United with seemingly a free run at the player this summer. However, a perceived lack of competition is not the only factor in the club's favour.

Ugarte is currently in the United States as part of the Uruguay squad for the Copa America. So too is Facundo Pellistri, who, despite a lack of game time at United, starts alongside the PSG player for the national team.

Another Uruguayan with United connections is Edinson Cavani, who retired from international football but has been in the Uruguay set-up since Ugarte's first senior call-up three years ago. However, former United player Guillermo Varela is in the squad seven years after leaving Old Trafford.

Ugarte would become the fifth Uruguayan to play for the club, two decades after the first, Diego Forlan, left. United's interim chief executive, Jean-Claude Blanc, could play a role in any move over the coming weeks before stepping down once Omar Berrada arrives on 13 July.

Blanc previously worked at PSG as the club's CEO following the takeover by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) in the summer of 2011. The executive spent 11 years at the club and is barely two years removed from leaving the French capital.