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5 Man Utd centre-half targets to partner Harry Maguire and transfer hopes rated

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Manchester United are targeting a centre-half in the summer transfer window as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeks a long-term partner for Premier League.

United's defending has improved over the course of the campaign, helping Solskjaer's side surge to second in the Premier League table.

Victor Lindelof has the trust of his manager alongside Maguire, while Eric Bailly recently signed a new deal and Axel Tuanzebe has been handed opportunities to impress.

But the Europa League semi-finalists will be seeking an upgrade on their current defensive options as they look to challenge for football's top prizes next term, with Solskjaer needing more pace alongside his skipper.

Here, Daily Star sport looks at five centre-half targets and rates United's chances of signing them.

Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane has been heavily linked with United as he approaches the final year of his Real Madrid contract.

But the 28-year-old said last week he wasn't thinking about a move, saying he was "100 per cent committed" to Zinedine Zidane's side

"My future is clear," said the France international. "I am focused on the end of the season.

"The message to the fans is that I am 100 per cent committed to the team."

It remains to be seen how Varane views his future after the end of the season, but if Madrid were to cash in he were to move his transfer fee would be likely to be close to the £80m United paid to land Maguire.

Transfer rating: 7/10.

Pau Torres

Pau Torres is another player who has been extensively linked with United after impressing during the past two seasons for Villarreal.

The 24-year-old has pace and the ball-carrying skills needed to be a top-class modern centre-back.

He still has three years left on his Villarreal contract, but his release clause is said to be around £43m – making him a much more cost effective option than Varane.

Torres is only in his second season of top-flight football so lacks experience on the biggest stages, but fits with Solskjaer's philosophy of signing young players to help build for the future.

Transfer rating: 8/10

Jules Kounde

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  • Kounde is younger still than Torres at just 22 – but he is more experienced, having helped Sevilla knock United out of the Europa League on their way to winning the competition.

    He was eyed by Manchester City last summer before Pep Guardiola swooped for Ruben Dias, who has had a transformative effect on the Premier League leaders' defence.

    Solskjaer would hope Kounde can have a similar impact, with the France under-21 star known for his excellent positioning.

    However, his release clause is believed to be around £68million, and Sevilla are not thought to be keen to sell the defender with three years left to run on his contract.

    Transfer rating: 7/10

    Dan-Axel Zagadou

    Dan-Axel Zagadou is about to enter the final year of his Borussia Dortmund contract with his future uncertain after his season was ended by knee surgery.

    The 21-year-old joined Dortmund from Paris-Saint Germain's B team back in 2017, having been touted as one of the most promising young defenders in France.

    But fitness issues have disrupted his Bundesliga career so far, with the France under-21 ace having suffered a series of injuries.

    His contract situation and injury history make him a cheaper option at probably around £20m – but signing him could be a gamble, especially given United's experience with Bailly's fitness problems since he joined in 2016.

    Transfer rating: 6/10

    Wesley Fofana

    Wesley Fofana is on United's radar after an impressive season for Leicester City.

    The 20-year-old is highly prized for his heading ability and his anticipation, which could allow United to play further up the pitch.

    However, Brendan Rodgers' Foxes are side are ambitious and will not want to lose one of their brightest prospects to a Premier League rival.

    They are notoriously tough negotiators – as proved by the £80m they pocketed from United to land Maguire – and would demand a high price for a player with four years left on his contract.

    Transfer rating: 7/10

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    • Europa League
    • Harry Maguire
    • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
    • Premier League
    • Manchester United FC

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