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Are Manchester United backing off of Toby Alderweireld pursuit?

According to the Manchester Evening News, Toby is no longer United’s No. 1 defensive target.

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

The road taking Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld to Manchester United may be wide, but it certainly isn’t straight.

What has seemed like a foregone conclusion for most of the spring and early summer has had a number of wrinkles in recent days. The latest comes from the Manchester Evening news, which reports that United seem to be backing off the pursuit of Toby and are now looking at alternate defensive targets as they seek to (once again) improve their back line ahead of the new season.

It is understood that scouts have expressed concerns about Alderweireld’s ‘profile’ and he is not a ‘100% target’ this summer.

United are instead looking further afield to the Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A for a potential starting centre-back, which has now become the priority following the signings of Fred and Diogo Dalot.

A number of defenders are understood to be on United’s radar, including Raphael Varane, Jerome Boateng, Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar, Alessio Romagnoli, Jose Gimenez and Caglar Soyuncu, but any prospective deal is expected to be the club’s most complicated transfer this summer.

—Ciaran Kelly, Manchester Evening News

But before anyone gets too upset about this particular story, this feels more like negotiating in the press than the early signs of a busted deal. In fact, both clubs have been leaking information to the press about Alderweireld. News from the Spurs camp suggested that Tottenham were holding out for a £70m fee if United refused to let Anthony Martial come the other way. Now, a report from the United camp that United might just move on to other targets if Spurs don’t reduce their valuation.

This is all par for the course. And in some ways, the dueling narratives could be a good sign — it means that eventually the two sides are likely to compromise to get a deal over the line. For what it’s worth, Spurs don’t really seem to have a problem selling to United (for the right price), and United most certainly are interested in buying him. This is just posturing, and there’s no real reason to believe that a deal can’t yet be reached.