Manchester United have ‘extensively scouted’ a pair of centre-backs as possible alternatives to Raphael Varane.
The French centre-back has admitted his desire to leave Madrid this summer, leading potential suitors to circle.
Chelsea and Manchester City are both said to have ‘informal interest’, but United are ‘most likely to try to do a deal’.
That’s according to The Athletic, who claim Madrid sources believe a deal could be done for around £40million and £45million.
But a report last week claimed the Red Devils have had a £50million bid for Raphael Varane knocked back by Florentino Perez, who wants £80million.
United are very unlikely to stump up that much for a 28-year-old who is out of contract next year.
Varane is not the only option; United are tracking three further centre-back options.
The Athletic claims the club have ‘extensively scouted’ Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, who are 24 and 22 respectively, as well as Brighton’s 23-year-old star Ben White, though Arsenal are thought to be leading the way for his signature.
Torres was closely followed by Manchester City before they signed Ruben Dias from Benfica last summer, while Real Madrid are also said to be admirers of the Spain international.
Villarreal have refused to rule out the sale of Torres, who is understood to have a release clause of over £50million, but there is less pressure for the club to sell their star assets having secured Champions League football next season.
And Jules Kounde has admitted he has ambitions that are perhaps out of reach if he remains with Sevilla.
When asked about his future at a press conference, the defender said: “I may have to change clubs this summer. I have not decided anything.
“My goal is, one day, to evolve into a great club to always try to progress, win trophies. To be able to start the season each year by telling yourself that the goal is win a particular trophy.
“I might have to move, but that’s not relevant today.”
Kounde is among the top centre-backs in Spain and is valued by Sevilla at £68million.
Speaking about his status as a major prospect, Kounde continued: “I would say that perhaps when I arrived at Sevilla and started playing more and more, also with the arrival of the Champions League.
“It has always been something in my head. I have always believed in it, I have always worked for it. To have it.
“That objective in the sights meant that I was able to have the performances I did at Sevilla. Also thanks to this club that helped me a lot and my team-mates who always pushed me.”