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Transfer Rater: Balotelli to West Ham

Football Whispers
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Man United targeting Jordi Alba but move from Barcelona difficult - sources

Manchester United hold an interest in Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba but there is an acceptance on both sides that a deal will be difficult to complete this summer, sources have told ESPN FC.

Alba was used sparingly by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique last season, while United boss Jose Mourinho struggled to find a regular left-back at Old Trafford, using Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young in the role.

But sources have told ESPN FC that Alba is more settled at the Camp Nou following Ernesto Valverde's appointment as manager.

The 28-year-old made 39 appearances last season but was left out of the starting XI for key Champions League knockout games.

Alba is under contract until 2020. And while he would be open to a move to United if Barcelona decided he was surplus to requirements, sources said that is not the case as things stand.

Mourinho's top priority this summer is to sign a striker to replace the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been released with his one-year deal set to expire.

But Mourinho must also decide whether to invest in a new left-back.

Shaw and Rojo are currently injured with ankle and knee problems, respectively. Of his other options, Darmian, Blind and Young are not natural left-backs.

It could mean youngsters Demetri Mitchell, 20, or Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, 20, are handed opportunities on the preseason tour of the United States when the squad departs for Los Angeles on July 9.

Mitchell, converted from a winger in the under-23s last season, made his first-team debut at left-back against Crystal Palace on the final day of the Premier League campaign.

Borthwick-Jackson, who signed a long-term contract last summer after breaking into the team under Louis van Gaal, spent last season on loan at Wolves but made just seven appearances.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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