Joao Cancelo and Kalidou Koulibaly watched by Man United as transfer plans begin to take shape

Aditya Devavrat 07:31 05/03/2019
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Kalidou Koulibaly is reportedly Manchester United's top centre-back target.

Manchester United scouts were in Naples on Sunday to watch Juventus right-back Joao Cancelo and Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly as the Serie A‘s top two faced off, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Cancelo emerged on the winning side as Juventus went 16 points clear of second-placed Napoli after a 2-1 victory in a wild game which saw both sides have a player sent off and Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne hit the post with a late penalty with the chance to level the scores having been 2-0 down.

Koulibaly has been linked with a move to United all season, with Talksport claiming last week that the 27-year-old Senegal man was one of three transfer targets the club had identified for the summer.

United have been looking for centre-back reinforcements since last summer, when they were linked with moves for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin, Leicester City’s England star Harry Maguire and Real Madrid‘s Raphael Varane, a World Cup winner with France in 2018, among others, only for the club to fail to sign anyone at the position.

Sweden centre-back Victor Lindelof has since emerged as one of United’s best players this season, while Eric Bailly has shown promise and Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both signed new contracts in recent months. But the club continue to look for upgrades at the back.

Along with Koulibaly, United have also been linked with moves for Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar and Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt, while on Sunday Portuguese daily Record claimed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were plotting a move for Benfica defender Ruben Dias, along with team-mate Joao Felix, in a £155million double swoop.

They did sign a right-back last summer, young Portugal U-21 international Diogo Dalot, but with Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian set to leave the club, United will be loathe to enter next season with just Dalot, who turns 20 later this month, and 33-year-old veteran Ashley Young at the position.

At 24, Cancelo would be an ideal player to take over from Young and mentor his compatriot Dalot – though according to that same Talksport report, United are also looking at Crystal Palace sensation Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the position. The British radio station also revealed that Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic is the third name on United’s transfer target list.

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