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Man Utd plot bad-blooded hijack of Liverpool wing target

| 30.05.2014

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk chairman Ihor Kolomoyskyi was widely attributed to have put the kybosh on Yevhen Konoplyanka’s mooted January move to Liverpool, but the Reds’ true nemesis could kill the deal stone dead this summer, if reports are to be believed.

The 2013/14 Premier League runners-up are 11/2 fourth-favourites to end their quarter of a century wait for a 19th title next term, with many football watchers of the opinion that Brendan Rodgers’ squad lacks the quality to compete domestically and in the Champions League.

Rodgers has already moved to address the deficiencies within his ranks with reported bids for Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, and was also expected to renew acquaintances with Kolomoyskyi ahead of another bid for Konoplyanka.

However, new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could be set to doubly endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful by making a move for the much-lauded Ukraine international, while thwarting their bitter rivals’ best-laid transfer plans in one fell swoop.

The deposed champions are gearing up to atone for their summer 2013 debacle by spending like drunken sailors during the Dutchman’s first transfer window in charge.

Landing new central-midfielders and centre-halves is thought to be Van Gaal’s priority, but recent reports have suggested that the 62-year-old is keen on Konoplyanka and may move quickly to secure the 24-year-old’s services.

United’s attacking-midfield ranks are bursting with guile from the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata, yet none of that trio are blessed with bags of pace.

Old Trafford widemen Nani and Antonio Valencia are far from certain to escape an expected Van Gaal cull this summer after disappointing during David Moyes’ short reign as manager, and with the pacy winger – who scored 13 goals in 36 games for Dnipro last term – thought to be available for as little as £12m, United would see the signing as relatively risk-free.

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Alex Fortune