Manchester United's surprise pursuit of Mason Mount has been the story of the summer transfer window so far, with Chelsea open to a sale after reportedly seeing the midfielder turn down multiple contract extension offers. Mount's current deal is due to expire in 2024, but the Blues are still demanding over £60 million ($76m) from United, who have already had three bids rejected.
It has been reported that United are leaving their final offer of £55m ($70m) on the table, but they are determined not to overpay for a player who will be available on a free transfer in 12 months' time. Mount's 2022-23 campaign was the worst of his Chelsea career to date, too, and it's not immediately clear how he would even fit into Erik ten Hag's line up.
Mount is simply not the transformative midfield signing that United need right now. A third-place finish in the Premier League represented progress for the club in Ten Hag's first season at the helm, but world-class recruits will be needed for them to now go on and bridge the gap to champions and arch-rivals Manchester City.
Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes were standout performers for United in 2022-23, but there was a clear lack of quality alongside them in the engine room. Christian Eriksen struggled for consistency while Fred and Scott McTominay continued to divide opinion, and Bayern Munich loanee Marcel Sabitzer was nothing more than a stop-gap.
The question is, who do United turn to now? Well, as always, there are a whole host of top players being linked with summer moves to Old Trafford. Some rumours are non-starters, such as the club's reported interest in Utrecht and United States midfielder Taylor Booth, who is certainly not the right kind of profile for Ten Hag.
But there are some genuinely great options out there for United too, starting with a certain Juventus star approaching his contract expiry date...