HomeNFLMan Utd have door opened to sign Italian wonderkid as Jim Ratcliffe...

Man Utd have door opened to sign Italian wonderkid as Jim Ratcliffe agrees deal


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Manchester United’s hopes of signing one of the rising stars of Italian football has been given a huge boost. Simone Pafundi, who at 17 is his country’s youngest ever senior international after being capped by the Azzuri in November 2022, has been handed an opportunity to press for a move for Old Trafford following a shrewd deal from Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Pafundi has joined Swiss Super League side Lausanne on a one-year loan from Udinese. The deal includes an option to make the transfer permanent for £12.8million, a fee which would smash the current record in Switzerland’d top-flight that was set in 2009 when Alex Frei joined Nati from Borussia Dortmund for £5.5million.

Lausanne are currently owned by INEOS, the company of United’s new minority shareholder Ratcliffe. And according to Blick, the move forms part of a long-term strategy from the British businessman to bring him to Old Trafford.

If Pafundi duly impresses at his new club, the switch will almost certainly become permanent in 12 months’ time. And that will give him the chance to develop further before Ratcliffe opts to bring him to the Premier League.

Pafundi was only 16 when he made his Serie A debut, just four months before his shock Italy call-back from then-manager Roberto Mancini. But after playing for his country in the Under-20 World Cup last summer, with the squad finishing runners-up to Uruguay, his progress has stalled due to injury.

The teenager suffered pubic muscle inflammation which has limited him to just 60 minutes for Udinese in the 2023/24 campaign. But the forward, previously compared to a young Lionel Messi, now has the opportunity to shine in Switzerland.

Ratcliffe, who also owns French outfit Nice, finally completed his partial takeover of United in December, acquiring a 25 per cent stake in the club. While the Glazer family will remain in charge, the lifelong fan is expected to be handed control of the day-to-day running of the club, which includes overseeing transfers.

The new investment he’ll bring into the club however, won’t be available until later on in 2024. It’s left Erik ten Hag restricted in the January transfer window, with no funding seemingly available to make big-money signings.

The Dutchman however, has sanctioned a number of loan exits from the club. This week, Radek Vitek became the tenth player to leave the club on a temporary deal, joining League Two side Accrington Stanley for the remainder of the season.

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