Sources close to Old Trafford indicate that Itakura is emerging as a prime target for the Red Devils, who are looking to bolster their defence this window. Man Utd are facing budget constraints and while Itakura has a release clause set at approximately £13 million in the summer, the Premier League giants are determined to secure his services ahead of rivals. The Japanese international’s versatility and proficiency in playing out from the back align with Erik ten Hag’s vision for the team’s blueprint.
Competition for Raphael Varane
The move aims to provide competition for established defender Raphael Varane, whose future remains uncertain.
The 26-year-old continues to impress on the international stage, currently representing Japan in the ongoing Asian Cup in Qatar. It was his recent standout performance in a 4-2 victory over Vietnam in matchday one has caught the attention of Man Utd’s recruitment team.
Itakura’s remarkable display included an impressive tally of 101 accurate passes, showcasing his ability to contribute significantly to the team’s build-up play, something which Ten Hag would like in his side.
Tottenham and Liverpool have also been linked to the defender, but it’s believed that those clubs will look towards more of a summer move, leaving the door open for Man Utd.
The presence of Sir Jim Ratcliffe is unlikely to trigger any huge January signings for Man Utd, but it’s not thought that they will remain inactive throughout the period. In the winter window last year, the club secured three loan signings, including Dutch striker Wout Weghorst. Additionally, they have been actively making room in their squad, with the likes of Jadon Sancho heading on loan to Borussia Dortmund, ahead of potential moves.