Matteo Darmian to Manchester United: Club 'agree £12.7m fee' to begin talks with Torino defender as Rafael nears exit

Rafael has fallen out of favour with Louis van Gaal and reports in Italy claim a deal has been reached to open personal negotiations

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The Independent Online

Manchester United have agreed a deal with Serie A club Torino for defender Matteo Darmian, with the club set to open personal talks over a move for the Italy international, according to reports.

Sky Italia claim that a fee of €18m (£12.7m) has been lodged and accepted with United keen to land the 25-year-old right-back before they embark on their pre-season tour of the United States on 13 July.

The former AC Milan defender is adept at playing on either flank, but his preferred position is on the right and comes with United manager Louis van Gaal eager to address the problem position in his squad. With winger Antonio Valencia being deployed in a makeshift wing-back role and Rafael believed to be on his way out of Old Trafford, the club are eager to bring in a new face to help with their alarmingly weak defence.

 

Speaking in November following the 1-1 draw with Chelsea that saw Rafael mark Didier Drogba at a goal-scoring corner, Van Gaal said: "In set plays, it is very difficult but that is because of the height of the team - maybe you can advise me to buy tall players."

At 6ft tall, Darmian offers more physicality than the 5ft 7in Rafael, who has been exposed aerially in the past and identified as a weak link in the United back four in recent years having also suffered with a string of injuries.

With the likes of Galatasaray, Napoli and Fiorentina all in the race to sign Rafael, it appears the Brazilian will be on his way out this summer, and Darmian has been identified as a suitable replacement after the club missed out on Barcelona right-back Dani Alves.

The Brazil international looked to be running down his contract at the Nou Camp and was on the verge of a free transfer away from the club, but it soon emerged that the United interest helped him to earn an improved contract offer with the Catalans to scupper any chance of moving to United this summer.

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Darmian was seen to wave to the Torino fans in their final Serie A game of the season

Seamus Coleman has also been considered as a possible summer signing, although United have not made a move for the Everton defender and if the reports in Italy prove true, the Republic of Ireland international is likely to remain at Goodison Park.

Having emerged from the Milan academy, Darmian was sold in 2010 to Palermo following a loan spell with Padova, and he joined Torino in 2011 where he has gone on to make 152 appearances in all competitions – having crucially made at least 30 league appearances in each season since he arrived at the Stadio Olimpico.

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Rafael looks to be on his way out of United

Darmian made his Italy debut in 2014 and quickly forced his way into the World Cup reckoning, with then-national team coach Cesare Prandelli choosing to put him in the starting line-up in place of Ignacio Abate, the man who Milan chose to persist with instead of Darmian.

Earlier this year, Darmian was rewarded for his breakthrough season with the Azzurri as he received the Pallone Azzurro award, given to the best player for the Italian national team each year.

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