Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told Manchester United’s centre-backs they need to step up or face being shipped out as the club look to bolster an already bloated area.
PA understands Leicester’s Harry Maguire is in the Old Trafford giants’ crosshairs, just as he was last summer when former manager Jose Mourinho made his desire to sign a central defender clear.
United are hoping to bring in a top-level centre-back before the transfer window shuts next month – a move that would only intensify the competition for a role that already has six contenders.
Sweden international Victor Lindelof reaffirmed his commitment to the club on Tuesday in Perth, while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling signed new and improved contracts last season.
Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe are other options at the heart of the backline for Solskjaer.
“Whoever performs will be part of the team and whoever doesn’t they have got a fight to get back in.
“There’s been loads of speculation, but I can’t really say anything. But we will work to find a relationship with the ones we’ve got.
“Axel has got a great chance of staying here and playing. He had a great season last year.
“It was a stop-start season with injuries, but he’s really proven that he is capable of playing at that level, he got promoted with Villa and he’s come back very strong, focused.
“He did well in the first game here, so he’s one of the young, exciting players that I can’t wait to see more.”