Meet the £50m midfielder set to restore Man United’s fortunes

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Having struck gold with Cristiano Ronaldo and … um … silver with Nani, Manchester United are set to return to Sporting Lisbon in the hope of unearthing another midfield star.

The Red Devils have been heavily linked with combative Sporting ace Joao Mario and reports suggest the Old Trafford club are now ready to meet a near-£50m release clause in order to secure his services.

A slick all rounder, Mario was said to be available for around £25m at the start of the season but after featuring in 37 games for the title-chasing Lisbon club, netting an impressive seven goals for the second season in a row, the price has been hiked up.

According to Portuguese publication A Bola the increased fee has not put United off and a bid for the 23-year-old is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

Mario came through the ranks at Sporting B and had a loan spell at Vitoria Setubal before making his Sporting debut and has gone on to become an integral part of the Lisbon set-up.

Money talks, however, and with United set to utilise a £300m transfer war chest this summer another high-profile move between the two clubs looks to be on the cards.

United are next in action in Saturday’s early kick-off away to Norwich and with their top four hopes still faintly alive go into the game as 17/20 favourites to claim all three points.

The Canaries can be backed at 16/5 to claim an unlikely win, while the draw is priced at 13/5.

Fail to qualify for the Champions League and United could struggle to land Mario – or any of their other top targets this summer – so expect the Red Devils to go all out at Carrow Road to take the chase down to the wire.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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