Five defensive targets for Manchester United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is being tipped to go wild in the transfer aisles again in the summer as he continues to overhaul his squad.

After spending in the region of £150million last summer, Van Gaal could have upwards of another £100million to invest in his squad again at the end of the season.

A second mammoth summer spree would put United near the forefront of the football betting to regain the Premier League title, but who will Van Gaal sign?

Defence is viewed as a priority and here are five players linked with a move to Old Trafford.

NATHANIEL CLYNE

Arguably the best English right-back in the Premier League, Clyne has helped to make Southampton’s defence the best in the division. He is out of contract in the summer of 2016 and will give a decision on his future by April after being linked with a £20million move to United. Liverpool are also reportedly interested in Clyne, who made his England debut against Slovenia in November. He has shown himself capable of playing in a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 formation, and would offer greater reliability in defence and attack than the likes of Rafael.

DIEGO GODIN

The Uruguayan has many of the attributes which United’s defence currently lack – primarily, though, composure. He is also quick, doesn’t suffer with injuries and is a fine reader of the game. The problem would be persuading the Atletico Madrid centre-half to move. He has a release clause of £28.5million and Atletico coach Diego Simeone has previously laughed off links with United. Godin has also confirmed he is very happy in Spain, having also played for Villarreal prior to his 2010 switch to Atletico.

MATS HUMMELS

Like Godin, just the sort of centre-half United require, even if he does lack a little pace. However, his intelligence can compensate for that and the Borussia Dortmund captain would add leadership to United’s back-line. Arsenal’s deal for Gabriel Paulista could clear the way for United to make a summer move for the Germany international, who won’t come cheap. Hummels has repeatedly ignored rumours about his future and has insisted he doesn’t need to be playing Champions League football to be happy. Dortmund are unlikely to be in the Champions League next season and that could make it easier for United to try to convince the Bundesliga club to sell.

AYMERIC LAPORTE

One of the best young centre-halves in European football, the Athletic Bilbao defender would be an ideal complement to a more experienced signing like Godin or Hummels. Bilbao are reportedly expecting an offer from United for Laporte, who has a £31m release clause, and the 20-year-old would be open to a move to Old Trafford. He is strong, quick and good in possession – all attributes which would appeal to Van Gaal. And, despite his age, he has shown he can organise a defence. The fly in the ointment is that Real Madrid are also reportedly interested. However, if Real sign Laporte then that could open the door for United to move for Raphael Varane.

MARQUINHOS

Like Laporte, Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos will turn 21 in May. He also shares many of Laporte’s qualities as a defender as he’s got a physical presence, doesn’t get ruffled easily and is clever in possession. The Brazilian’s agent has claimed United have shown an interest, although there seems to be disparity in the two clubs’ valuations. United are reported to value Marquinhos at £30m, but PSG feel he’s worth over £50m. He hasn’t been a regular for PSG this season following the signing of David Luiz, however, he is still considered by many to be the club’s best defender.