Manchester United are considering a move in signing AS Roma star Mehdi Benatia this summer, according to ESPN.
New Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal has Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans as the recognised central defenders in the squad. In addition to this, Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane have impressed during the Old Trafford club's pre-season tour.
The Dutchman confirmed that Evans has picked up an injury, which saw him being ruled out of their latest 2-1 victory over Valencia. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is desperate to strengthen his defence this summer.
Van Gaal has set his sights on Benatia, Dutch international Daley Blind and Sporting Lisbon's Marco Rojo. The United boss is keen on signing two out of the three players before the transfer window shuts on 1 September.
The Morocco international is valued to be around £30m and United need to meet Roma's asking price in bringing the 27-year-old centre-back to Old Trafford in the ongoing transfer window.
The Red Devils have signed Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw and Van Gaal is believed to be frustrated with the lack of activity in the transfer market. United were confident of securing a deal for Thomas Vermaelen. However, the former Arsenal skipper snubbed a chance to join the Red Devils and joined Barcelona last week.
Meanwhile, earlier reports suggested that Chelsea were also keen on signing Benatia. However, the Blues manager Jose Mourinho has put the recent speculation linking the west London club with a move in signing the Roma star to bed.
"We are not interested. We have John (Terry), (Gary) Cahill, (Branislav Ivanovic, (Kurt) Zouma," Mourinho explained.
"We want (Andreas) Christensen, step by step, training with us, every day plaguing a few minutes with it is possible, playing with the Under-21's and training with us a first team squad member. We are fine."
The former Real Madrid manager's latest comments will come as a welcome boost for United in their pursuit of signing Benatia.