Benfica still hope Manchester United will break the bank to sign Victor Lindelof, despite the astonishing form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
The highly-rated centre-back returned to Portugal this week after enjoying a Christmas break with family in Sweden. But he was surprisingly left out of the squad which defeated Pacos de Ferreira on Thursday.
However, Benfica boss Rui Vitoria has made it clear that Victor Lindelof was not dropped because the defender is about to be sold to Manchester United.
There is also a growing concern at Old Trafford that the Portuguese giants are playing with them to drive up the price for a player who hasn’t yet made 50 senior appearances.
Jones and Rojo have maintained a strong partnership in their last eight Premier League games and have improved extensively concede only six to reignite their top-four battle. With Eric Bailly now fit to play after his serious knee injury, and having a decent outing at right-back not being able to usurp the newly-settled two, United now have three quality centre-halves with Daley Blind in reserve to offer cover.
Earlier, several reports in Portugal claimed a £38m deal is still on. United, however, are yet to table a formal bid.
Benfica coach Rui Vitoria, meanwhile, gave an update as to why the Swede was left out from his matchday squad last week.
“He sat out of the 18 as did others,” said the Benfica boss. “Leaving out Lindelof was my choice. We have five quality centre-backs. The president knows what to do with the fortunes of the club. There is no player who is not committed to Benfica.”
But the strong notion remains, suggesting that United have finalised all the terms on a £38 million transfer for Lindelof represented by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
But Benfica had to first settle a package with the 22-year-old’s first club, Vasteras. The Swedish third division outfit, where Lindelof began his career, are demanding a hefty amount of the cash over an appearance-related clause in his contract.