United's biggest rival for top target set to pull out of race in June – report

Manchester United may have been handed a boost in their ongoing pursuit of Erling Haaland as Real Madrid may have had their heads turned elsewhere.

United almost bagged the teenage striking sensation in January, only for him to be snapped up by Borussia Dortmund after the Red Devils refused to agree to a €75 million release clause (around £67 million) being included in his contract.

It appeared to be a massive coup for Dortmund but the price of victory was that clause, which reportedly becomes active in June. That will allow United another bite at the cherry, but that itself has been looking doubtful as Real Madrid were reported to have made the Norwegian their top summer 2021 transfer target.

However, that could be about to change.

Paris St Germain’s director of football, Leonardo, announced this week on Facebook that the club were intensifying their efforts to renew its stars’ contracts, including that of Kylian Mbappe.

‘We have started several negotiations for the renewals of certain players,’ Leonardo said.

‘We have to adapt to the current economic reality, but all the renewals that we are thinking about, those of Di María, Neymar, Mbappé, even Bernat or Draxler, we have begun to discuss with them and we are going to intensify the negotiations in the coming days.’

This has not escaped the notice of Real Madrid, who believe they have done enough to convince the Frenchman to decline any renewal offers from PSG so they can sign him.

‘Operation Mbappé is unleashed,’ AS reports.

‘These are … key days for Real Madrid, who will know for sure if the work they have been doing these months with the 20-year-old star has paid off or not.

‘Real Madrid has been patient with this operation.

‘Up to three times … Mbappé has said “no” to renewing his contract with the Parisian entity.

‘If he reaches next summer without having extended his contractual relationship, Mbappé will be able to leave at a reasonable price (Madrid estimates that to be around €180 million [£161m]).’

With that deal now looking very possible, or even probable, rather than speculative, Real’s pursuit of Haaland will almost inevitably be put on the back burner.

It’s unlikely that this would leave United with a free run at Haaland in June as he is likely to have many other suitors, but it would certainly remove their biggest rival for his signature.
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