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Skriniar? Godin? Why Man Utd owe Solskjaer a defensive deal

COMMENT: So blank it? Let this transfer window pass? No chance. Manchester United will be active this month. Indeed, they already are. Though whether it's a ruse for a longer term target. Or one to get in immediately. Only Ed Woodward can tell us that...

The idea that United's vice-chairman exec is going to sit this one out. That he'll wait until the summer. Wait until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been discarded for the more acceptable, marketable name. Well, given his history, that just doesn't stack up.

Louis van Gaal never asked for Angel di Maria nor Radamel Falcao. Jose Mourinho had no idea about Eric Bailly until they were being introduced at Carrington. If there is a deal to be done, then Woodward - and to be fair, in consultation with Jim Lawlor - will pull the trigger.

From Italy, it's broke in the last 48 hours. They're in for him. Diego Godin. Turned down once in August after a beat the deadline offer. Woodward has moved late - again - with an attempt to rumble Inter Milan's month-long negotiations with the Uruguayan's minders.

The latest is Woodward has matched Inter's contract offer of around £2m-a-year. And with his current deal to expire in June, both clubs believe Atletico Madrid will sell for a bargain basement £3m.

For the moment, those in the know - specifically in Milan - believe Godin is ready to commit to the Nerazzurri. The great irony being, it was Woodward who set this whole thing in motion six months ago. Need an explanation? Well, let's turn to the defender's biographer Jose Navarro, who declared on Saturday night: "Godin has not closed any deal with Inter. But the reality is that Atletico made some promises to the player, after the Manchester United bid, and they never respected it. And then they made no effort to renew Godin's contract."

So promises broken and a deal still alive. Woodward could be in here. We know - sans Jose - United still want that cheap, experienced centre-half signing. The enquiries after Andreas Granqvist, the Helsingborgs captain, had Lawlor's finger prints all over it. With the opportunity again raised, Inter's intermediaries can't be surprised by United's eleventh hour attempt.

But there's another factor to be considered. Another player in this mix. Milan Skriniar. Inter Milan's Slovakian centre-half. Admired by Jose Mourinho. Approved by Woodward. Before Godin, a bid of €70m was lodged for Skriniar and flatly rejected by the Italians. The player stating at the time: "I'm happy about the interest in me, but Inter decided how they decided, so I cannot say anything more about it."

And the same source making that €70m revelation is now insisting Inter's move for Godin would be to replace Skriniar, not complement him. Further strengthening United's hand is Barcelona - their nearest rivals for the defender - taking Jeison Murillo on-loan from Valencia just last week. Find that €70m and Woodward could have his man - so long as he steps aside for Inter to take Godin.

So where does this leave Solskjaer? Well, simply in the same place as all those before him. Van Gaal, Mourinho, David Moyes... even Ryan Giggs. They had their say. Sure. But they didn't really have power of veto.

For his part, Solskjaer will surely welcome a defensive signing. He didn't make light of having to move Matteo Darmian inside for Saturday's FA Cup win over Reading. Just as Mourinho suffered before him, the Norwegian has found the squad short at the back. Whether it's Godin, Skriniar or some equivalent, Solskjaer will appreciate the show of support.

And he deserves it. Even battling through a labourious 2-0 win over the Royals, the manager still found a way to lift the crowd. Two five goal results. The revival of Paul Pogba. The confirmation of Marcus Rashford. Solskjaer has been delivering way beyond his brief. And he read the mood superbly on Saturday, spying the chance to give everyone inside Old Trafford a lift with the debut of Tahith Chong.

It could've been just a ho-hum win. Expected. Forgettable. Instead, Solskjaer gave those attending something special. An 'I was there' moment as he gave Chong a first home appearance.

Any of those ex-teammates warning against business this month. That making a major signing for Solskjaer would be wrong given he'll be gone by June. They need to consider recent history.

No matter whom is in the home dugout, Woodward will buy regardless. And if it's to be a defender who can make an instant impact all the better. It's the least the current manager deserves for what he's done for Manchester United in these three short weeks.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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