Senior figures at Bramall Lane were surprised to receive the Italian’s approach for the centre-forward, having received no expressions of interest from clubs either at home or abroad during the first three weeks of the window.
But Stefano Colantuono’s side have offered Mousset and United, whose manager Paul Heckingbottom recently told the 25-year-old he needed to improve his conditioning in order to be considered for first team selection, an escape route out of the situation they find themselves in.
Speaking after his team’s 2-0 win over Peterborough, Heckingbottom confirmed talks between Salernitana and Mousset’s representative are now at an advanced stage.
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“I expect it to go through,” he said, referring to the proposed loan move. “That should get done.”
Coached by former Ascoli defender Stefano Colantuono, Salernitana are bottom of the Serie A table and seemingly destined for relegation only a year after being promoted from the second tier. Colantuono took charge in October, replacing Fabrizio Castori, the coach who had delivered top-flight football to the Stadio Arechi for the first time since 1999.
However, his presence has not provoked the turnaround in fortunes their presidents would have hoped. Despite recruiting Mousset’s fellow Frenchman Franck Ribery in September, Salernitana are three points adrift at the foot of the rankings and have only scored three goals in their last eight outings - conceding 24 in the process.
Those problems in the final third, combined with the financial issues many Italian clubs have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, explain why Colantuono’s technical department are prepared to take a risk on Mousset whose fitness record in South Yorkshire leaves much to be desired.
Widely regarded as the most talented striker at United’s disposal, his lifestyle choices away from the pitch prevented him from building upon the explosive start he made to life in northern England after completing a £10m switch from AFC Bournemouth. On target five times in 10 outings at the start of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Mousset had become a peripheral figure by the time United returned to the Championship last term. After enjoying a brief renaissance under Heckingbottom’s predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, he quickly faded from view again following the Serb’s departure in November.
Salernitana’s proposal is thought to contain a ‘right to buy’ clause which, with Mousset’s contract with United set to expire this summer, suggests officials there indicated they might exercise an extension clause in order to receive some return on their investment once Colantuono’s offer was made. It is unclear if Salernitana are prepared to pay a facility fee to process the transfer or what percentage of Mousset’s wage they are ready to subsidise.
United, who return to action when they face Birmingham City on Friday, climbed to 11th in the table following their victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. Captain Billy Sharp’s strike, which laid the platform for the result, saw United’s captain become the highest scoring player in the competition since its rebranding in 2004.