Manchester United might have to lean on their rivals to get a good look at one player they are desperate to sign this summer.
The Red Devils have had a season from hell – especially in defence where they have conceded 51 times so far in the Premier League. They have their lowest point tally in the competition at this stage and are in serious peril of missing out on the Champions League.
Considering they finished second last year, it has been a steep decline – especially when they brought in the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. But they have been seriously set back by a dysfunctional defence.
Ralf Rangnick is aware of the problems and has already told his Old Trafford bosses that a new centre-back will have to be signed. It has led to the club reviving interest in Villarreal star Pau Torres, who has had a superb season.
After already impressing several teams around Europe – including Manchester City and Tottenham – the Spain international has helped his club to the Champions League semi-finals in an extraordinary manner.
Along the way, Unai Emery’s men have beaten Juventus and Bayern Munich and face Liverpool next in what has been an incredibly tough route. But the La Liga team will not be buoyed by their world-class opponents.
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And that is because their defence has proved astute throughout the competition – conceding just two goals in the knockout stage of the Champions League. However, facing Liverpool will bring about a whole new test with their frontline among the most terrifying in Europe.
In total, the Reds have scored an extraordinary 133 times and gives Torres what might just be his toughest opponents yet. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and the newly-signed Luis Diaz have the firepower to strike fear into any defender.
With Torres firmly in United’s mind, they will pay close attention to how the 25-year-old handles the occasion and seeing if he could improve their own problems at the back. It was just last week when Jurgen Klopp’s men embarrassed the Red Devils at Anfield.
While Villarreal go into the clash as huge underdogs, they have been written off before and proved against the odds as they chase their first-ever Champions League final. United, on the other hand, are looking increasingly unlikely to even play in that competition next year.