Man Utd can agree contracts with five world-class players in January as Sir Jim Ratcliffe eyes positive window

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe might exert immediate influence at Manchester United via the transfer market if his 25% acquisition deal with the club becomes official.

A 12-member board will vote on whether to approve the British billionaire’s proposal to acquire a minority stake in United from the Glazer family.

The Telegraphclaim that Ratcliffe and his petrochemicals company, INEOS, have negotiated a clause that will allow the 71-year-old to take over footballing operations at Old Trafford.

He certainly has experience in the area, with INEOS currently in charge at Ligue 1 side Nice and Swiss top division outfit Lausanne-Sport.

But regardless of Ratcliffe’s initial investment, Financial Fair Play (FFP) is still a concern for United, and it means they cannot spend huge sums of money in January without player sales.

They can, however, agree pre-contracts with players ahead of summer moves when their contracts expire.

Here are five players they could target in January.

Adrien Rabiot

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United have been linked with a move for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot in each of the past two summer transfer windows.

But they failed to sign him in 2022due to the player’s wage demands, which put them off a move in the following summer.

Without the need to pay a transfer fee – although a large signing-on fee could be involved – United may have more room to negotiate and bring the 2018 World Cup winner to Old Trafford.

Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao)

One of Spain’s brightest young forwards, 21-year-old Nico Williams has attracted interest from United, Brighton and Liverpool, as perFichajes, as his contract at Athletic Bilbao nears its expiry.

A right-sided winger who can also play on the opposite flank, Williams is a regular in the Spain side. He is valued at €40 million byTransfermarkt, meaning United could secure a bargain by signing him in the summer.

Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)

Another midfield option for United, Piotr Zielinski was a key part of the Napoli side that won the club its first Scudetto in 33 years last term.

The Pole, who provides a goal threat from central midfield and is an excellent set-piece taker, has regularly been linked with Liverpool over recent years after they missed out on signing him in 2016.

The 29-year-old’s deal expires in June and he could decide to end his eight-year stay in Naples.

Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)

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If United wanted to reunite Raphael Varane with another of his former Real Madrid team-mates, they could swoop for Toni Kroos ahead of his contract expiry this summer.

The 33-year-old legend, who has won four Champions League titles at Real, has been linked with a move to Manchester City.

But he could make the move across Manchester instead, having previously revealed that he rejected them in 2013 when David Moyes was in charge.

Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

It is pretty difficult to imagine Kylian Mbappe joining United this summer – but more unusual things have happened in football.

The PSG icon’s much-publicised contract expiry occurs at the end of this campaign, with the Frenchman telling his current club that he does not wish to renew it.

Step forward, then, the inevitable bidding war – and while he looks likely to end up at Real Madrid, United might try their luck if they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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