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Manchester United join race to sign Ligue 1 star

Strengthening the midfield is believed to be Manchester United’s priority in the upcoming transfer window but their defensive frailties were exposed last season and a centre-back is also believed to be on their wishlist.

Jurrien Timber has been strongly linked with a move to United this summer but Ajax are said to be gaining confidence over keeping him this summer, with Holland manager Louis van Gaal also urging him against the possibility of joining a club where he wouldn’t be guaranteed minutes.

Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni has also been linked with a move, with Tottenham Hotspur also believed to be interested in the Italy international.

There has been a Dutch theme to United targets this summer, with Frenkie de Jong being another player paired with an Old Trafford switch. Now, Lille star Sven Botman has become the latest player linked with a move to United.

Read more: John Stones jumps to Harry Maguire’s defence after ‘harsh’ criticism

The 22-year-old is regarded as one of the most exciting young defenders in Europe and according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, United have joined AC Milan in the race to sign the Dutchman.

As per the report, the Serie A champions are not close to meeting Lille’s €40-45m valuation and he is now being courted United, Tottenham and Newcastle. Milan are, however, not ready to give up on their target just yet but are acknowledging that the state of play has changed.

SN’s verdict…
There’s been a spike in reports linking United to defenders recently and although it remains an area of concern, many supporters would like to see the midfield be addressed first.

Botman would, however, be a quality addition to United’s thin backline and certainly improves the squad. There are question marks over Raphael Varane’s ongoing fitness issues and Harry Maguire’s future is uncertain.

Eric Bailly is likely to leave this summer and outcast defender Phil Jones can’t be counted on due to his availability. Victor Lindelof has also struggled with injuries lately, having been forced to pull out of the most recent Sweden camp due to a longstanding issue.

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