Manchester United will reportedly make their first big splash of the summer transfer market. According to reports out of Portugal, the Red Devils are targeting a major move for Sporting defender Gonçalo Inácio. The center-back only just signed a new long-term deal with the current Primeira Liga champions last summer. However, United is willing to trigger the star’s $65 million release clause.

A Bola claims that while United wants to sign Inácio, negotiations still rage on. For instance, United will be able to discuss with Sporting how the release clause is to be paid off. This likely includes how many payments the club will make on the massive fee, as well as a clear timeframe. These talks will reportedly continue in the coming days.

The two teams have a fairly lengthy history of conducting transfer business. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Sporting to United back in 2003 is the most marquee transfer. Nevertheless, the Red Devils have also previously purchased Nani, Marcos Rojo, and Bruno Fernandes from the Portuguese side as well.

Defender’s display has made multiple English teams take notice

Inácio is a highly-rated central defender at the age of just 22. Fellow English sides such as Liverpool and Newcastle were also interested in a move for the center-back as well. Rumors linked Sporting manager Rúben Amorim with replacing Jurgen Klopp at the Merseyside club. The move would have possibly helped the Reds successfully sign the star defender. Nevertheless, Liverpool chose Arne Slot to take on the Anfield hot seat instead.

The Portugal international recently made 49 total appearances for Amorim at Sporting this past season. Inácio is extremely dependable. He only missed a handful of games due to injury in recent years. Portuguese officials noticed his stellar performances throughout the 2023/24 campaign. The star won the Primeira Liga Defender of the Month Award three different times in the season.

Inácio will feature for Portugal at the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament. He was recently named in Roberto Martínez’s squad alongside multiple current United players. Along with the aforementioned Fernandes, Diogo Dalot will join the defender at the competition in Germany.

Manchester United needs to revamp central defense this summer with Inácio

Fernandes publicly praised Inácio while on international duty back in March. The dynamic playmaker claimed that the defender “has grown enormously” in recent seasons. There have been suggestions that Fernandes wants a pay raise in order to remain with the Red Devils. United brass could very well be targeting Inácio to help satisfy their midfielder.

Inácio, however, is a top talent at the position, and United needs reinforcements. United struggled in central defense, along with other areas, throughout the 2023/24 campaign. Manager Erik ten Hag shuffled his backline often due to poor performances and injuries.

Raphael Varane will depart the Red Devils after his contract expires this month. Veteran Jonny Evans is also out of contract as well, but the club is willing to bring back the 36-year-old defender. Even if Evans returns, Ten Hag needs to revamp his defense heading into the 2024/25 campaign. Lisandro Martinez may be the only true reliable center back on the roster and the Argentine struggled with injuries during the latest season.