According to reports in the Portuguese media this afternoon, Benfica are eyeing a move for Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian.
Out of favour
Versatile Italian full-back Darmian arrived at Old Trafford from Torino in 2015, impressing during his early months with the club on his way to racking up a respectable 24 Premier League starts over the course of his debut campaign in England.
However, he fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho during the 2016/17 season, with the Portuguese tactician opting for the likes of Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind over the 36-time capped Azzurri international.
As a result, Darmian was heavily linked with a departure from Manchester last summer, with a rake of Serie A sides having reportedly expressed an interest in bringing him back to Italy.
In the end, somewhat surprisingly, Jose Mourinho was the one who blocked a transfer for his 28-year-old stopper, though, with the former Inter Milan and Chelsea boss having viewed Darmian as an important member of his squad, despite his lack of game-time.
However, with Darmian having managed just 8 appearances in the English top-flight this past season (5 starts), reports began to intensify late last year that he would push for a January exit from Old Trafford, with all of Juventus, Napoli and Roma having been touted as potential destinations for the AC Milan youth product.
‘Not for sale’
Speaking to Rete Sport at the beginning of the year, Darmian’s agent, Tullio Tinti, was questioned on rumoured interest from Roma in his client, as well as the possibility of a January exit, with Tinti surprisingly revealing that the Italian stopper had still not been made available for transfer:
‘I’ve never received any calls from Roma [for Darmian].’
‘There’s contact with other Serie A sides, but not with the Giallorossi. At the moment, the lad’s not for sale.’
However, Darmian himself added fuel to the fire regarding the possibility of a return to Italy this summer during an interview with Sky Sport Italia back in May, when he admitted that he ‘missed’ his home country, before revealing his pleasure at hearing of Juventus’ interest in his services, and heaping praise on the Bianconeri amid rumours of a deal having already been agreed for him to make the move to the Allianz Stadium.
As such, when reliable Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano subsequently revealed that Darmian’s move to Turin was ‘close’, it was widely viewed as an inevitability that the transfer would soon be formally announced:
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 24, 2018
However, surprisingly, the weeks since Romano’s update have seen little to no progress made towards the deal’s completion, amid mounting reports that Juventus and Manchester United cannot agree on a fee.
Turin-based outlet Tuttosport shed some light on the impasse between the parties last month, with Juventus said to have offered to pay 12 million Euro, plus a further 3 million in bonuses for the stopper, but Manchester United demanding no less than 20 million Euro.
As such, despite Napoli also heavily courting the versatile Italian, Darmian has, to this point, remained a Manchester United player.
And, as per a report from The Game (via OJogo) this afternoon, a new suitor, in the form of Portuguese giants Benfica, have today entered the race to secure Darmian’s services.
Benfica recently lost right-back Tyronne Ebuehi to a cruciate ligament injury, with the Primeira Liga outfit now requiring competition for Andre Almeida.
As such, OJogo claim that the Reds are currently in negotiations with Manchester United over the possibility of Darmian making the move to the Estádio da Luz, after the club also attempted to sign the stopper in January.