Liverpool bow out in race to sign Manchester United target

Sven BOTMAN of Lille during the Ligue 1 match between Montpellier HSC and Lille OSC at Stade de la Mosson on December 23, 2020 in Montpellier, France.

Manchester United have received a boost in their pursuit of Lille defender Sven Botman as Liverpool are not in contention for the Dutchman.

According to a report from the Express, Manchester United have a free run at Lille star Sven Botman as arch-rivals Liverpool are not in the running to sign the defender.

Botman, 20, came through the youth ranks at AFC Ajax but never managed to break into the first-team at the Dutch outfit. After having spent the 2019/20 season out on loan at Heerenveen, the young centre-half switched to France, signing for Lille.

Since arriving at the club, the Dutchman has established himself as a regular in the lineup, starting all of Lille’s Ligue 1 matches and five of their six UEFA Europa League games. In 23 appearances in all competitions, Botman has helped the team to nine clean sheets, while setting up a goal as well.

Botman’s exploits with the Ligue 1 outfit had led to reports that Liverpool were interested in signing him in January. The Reds are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window after both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are out sidelined, potentially for the rest of the season.

Joel Matip, who was the only senior centre-back at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal, also picked up an injury, leaving the manager to rely on makeshift centre-half Fabinho, along with the inexperienced duo of Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips.

while all three have impressed so far this term, for Liverpool to successfully defend their league title and challenge on multiple fronts, a recognized centre-back is a necessity this month. To that end, Botman had been touted as a potential target for the Merseysiders.

However, The Athletic’s James Pearce has taken to Twitter to rule out any such move, insisting that Liverpool aren’t interested in the Dutchman.“No talks over a deal for Sven Botman. Liverpool not considering a move for him. Sounds like someone is trying to drive up the price/interest in the Lille defender,” he wrote.

This development has potentially left the field clear for Manchester United to move in on Botman, with the 20-year-old believed to be on their radars as well. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stuck with the duo of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as his preferred partnership at the back, but the pair haven’t been consistent enough this term.

Furthermore, Lindelof has been struggling with a chronic back problem. Eric Bailly has made a strong return from injury, but given his sketchy fitness record, adding more depth to the centre-back department would make sense for the Red Devils. Even more so, considering that Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones will both be allowed to leave this month.

With Liverpool not in the hunt for Botman, Manchester United have been given a free run at Botman now. However, it remains to be seen if the 20-time English champions do launch a move for the Dutchman this month or decide to stick with their current defensive options for the rest of the season.

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