Roberto De Zerbi sends message to Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood over Marseille transfer

Roberto De Zerbi called Mason Greenwood a ‘champion’ in his debut press conference as Marseille’s head coach (OM/Twitch)

Roberto De Zerbi has hailed Mason Greenwood as a world-class player as Marseille continue talks with Manchester United over a deal for the striker.

Greenwood has just spent the season on loan at Getafe and United are now looking to sell the 22-year-old after deciding that he will not return to Erik ten Hag’s first-team squad.

Greenwood has not played for United since he was arrested in January 2022 for attempted rape, controlling behaviour and assault.

All charges against Greenwood were dropped in February 2023 and United had considered reintegrating him back into Ten Hag’s squad before the Premier League club received major backlash over his potential return.

Lazio have made an offer to sign Greenwood following his impressive stint at Getafe last season but the bid from the Italian club, which is believed to be €20 million (£16.9m) plus a 50 per cent sell-on clause, is well below United’s £40m valuation.

Marseille are now leading negotiations to sign the forward with a £27m deal close to being agreed with United.

Marseille are in advanced talks to sign Mason Greenwood from Marseille (Europa Press via Getty)

Asked about a move for Greenwood, De Zerbi said at his debut press conference as Marseille’s new head coach on Tuesday: ‘He has not been recruited so there is not much to say. He is a champion, an international-level player.

‘I don’t know his past, I don’t know exactly what happened. I don’t like to interfere in the private lives of players.

‘The only thing I can say is that when a player signs for the club where I work, I consider him as my child.

‘I protect him through thick and thin, even if I can pull his ear in private, I will defend him publicly. My players are like my sons.’

Asked also about the potential arrival of Greenwood given the nature of his arrest in Manchester, Marseille’s president, Pablo Longoria, said: ‘For a year and a half we have put in place a social program among the strongest in Europe and it was a personal idea that Marseille would be invested in all the subjects where football has a place – in education, in women’s football, the work of the foundation.

‘What is certain is that no matter which player comes to Marseille, he must share our values ​​and the ones we want to have in common with society.

‘At Marseille, there is no religion, no social class, we want Marseille to be a vector of social unity and for all players to share this vision. We want people with values ​​and good people.’

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