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Manchester United want to use Anthony Martial in a swap to entice Barcelona to sell Ivan Rakitic, according to reports.

Diario Gol (h/t Marc Williams of the Daily Star) reported Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho is the architect of the deal and a “huge admirer” of Rakitic’s ability. Barcelona are considering their squad after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, and new boss Ernesto Valverde could be prepared to take the starting XI in a new direction. The report said Mourinho is happy to let Martial go in order to claim his main target.

Rakitic is hugely admired throughout Europe, and his technical prowess would benefit Paul Pogba at United. However, the signing of Nemanja Matic has solved the defensive midfield conundrum for Mourinho, and it would be difficult to accommodate the Barca midfielder.

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The sale of Martial would also be hugely unpopular among United fans, with the France international a favourite of the Stretford End. The player has flattered to deceive at times, but he is young (he turns 22 in December) and his best years are ahead of him.

Martial dovetails well with Marcus Rashford, and both allow the Red Devils to play with pace and endeavour.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News reported the Frenchman is “happy” to remain at United after a recent link with a potential approach from Arsenal.

Martial’s form recently saw him awarded the club’s player of the month for September, per Full Time Devils:

Rakitic made 32 La Liga appearances for Barca last season, according to Squawka, scoring eight goals. The Croatian achieved a passing success rate of 86 per cent, and his technical ability would be appreciated at the Theatre of Dreams.

Michael Carrick is close to retirement, and if the longtime servant departs at the end of the season, Rakitic would be an ample replacement.

Mourinho has completely rebuilt his midfield during his short period at the club, but the loss of Martial for Rakitic makes little sense.

Martial was a costly purchase from Monaco, with a view to developing him into a world-class attacker, and a swap for a player on the brink of his 30s appears bad business. 

United need to recruit an additional wing-back to provide width and service, but a central midfielder purchase would be nonessential.

Ander Herrera has spent the opening part of the season on the bench, and he provides United with a similar philosophy to Rakitic’s strengths.

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