Man Utd and Arsenal handed fresh £60m transfer incentive in top-four battle

The race for a top-four finish in the Premier League has taken on an added edge for Manchester United and Arsenal ahead of the summer transfer window.

The two English giants are among the many clubs across Europe targeting prolific Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, who has lit up the Primeira Liga with 20 goals in 22 appearances this season. The 22-year-old, who represents Uruguay at international level, was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in January amid interest from Newcastle and West Ham.

While he ultimately stayed put in Portugal, it appears all but certain he will pursue a new challenge at the end of the season. To that end, Nunez has sent out a clear demand to his suitors which ups the ante for United and Arsenal ahead of the run-in.

That is according to the Daily Telegraph, which claims the player will only consider joining a club which will be playing Champions League football next season. The report adds Atletico Madrid are among the frontrunners for Nunez’s signature and Benfica have set a price tag of at least £60million for their prized asset. However, United and Arsenal remain potential destinations and the side which finishes fourth will receive a huge boost in the race for one of the continent’s freest-scoring centre-forwards.

The Red Devils are expected to freshen up their attack this summer due to Edinson Cavani being out of contract and uncertainty surrounding the futures of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The Gunners, meanwhile, will be left extremely light of options up front in a matter of months when Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are expected to leave on free transfers, having already lost Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in the January window.

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Darwin Nunez has scored 26 goals in 33 appearances this season
Darwin Nunez has scored 26 goals in 33 appearances this season

Both clubs have a pressing need for fresh blood in attack and this gives another dimension to the fiercely-competitive battle for a top-four finish. Arsenal have the edge heading into the season’s climax with a four-point lead and a game in hand over United. However, Tottenham are also in the mix – sitting just three points behind their North London rivals – and they could scupper the transfer plans of the Gunners and the Red Devils if they nab fourth.

As for Atletico, Diego Simeone’s side appear likely to secure Champions League spot as they are fourth in La Liga with a four-point lead over fifth-placed Real Betis. This could position the Spanish giants favourably as they weigh up a big-money bid for Nunez, who will be in action against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals in April.

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