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    Update on Man Utd contract talks with Alessia Russo, Ona Batlle & Mary Earps

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    Manchester United remain in ‘heavy’ contract talks with key players Alessia Russo and Ona Batlle, both of whom are out of contract at the end of the season.

    The club has also opened negotiations over a new deal for star goalkeeper Mary Earps, whose current deal expires this year but includes an option until 2024.

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    Both Russo and Batlle are already in their respective option years after their initial deals expired at the end of last season and each has been linked with high profile moves away. There have been rumours of Lyon interest in Russo, while Batlle has long been on the radar of Barcelona and Chelsea.

    As things stand, Russo and Batlle, now in the final six months before potential free agency if fresh deals aren’t secured, are permitted to speak with clubs over a pre-contract agreement.

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    “If you know how agencies work, sometimes they have conversations before the legal time. These conversations have probably been ongoing for a while, but the reality for us is the players are very happy with what we’re doing at Manchester United,” manager Marc Skinner said on the subject.

    “They understand where we are heading. There are parts we are continuing heavy negotiations with both Ona and Alessia. I am hopeful.”

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    With women’s football developing at a fast rate and both current and future values of players booming, Skinner also spoke of the challenges that entails.

    “We’re entering a different realm of women’s football, so it become more difficult,” he said. “But we are working as hard as we can to retain the players and build on top of that.”

    For Earps, who has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world over the past 18 months, the situation is slightly different. She is still technically out of contract at the end of the season, but the extension option in her current deal is the club’s to use but talks over a new deal are also underway.

    “Our options are for the club [to trigger],” Skinner confirmed.

    “We’re actually in the conversation with Mary about renegotiation too. It’s something we’re looking towards, she’s someone I personally have a lot of time for. We’re looking at that because she’s a huge part of what we do.”

    For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter!

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