Manchester United are reportedly keen to sign Atalanta defender Cristian Romero as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes strengthening his defence a priority during the upcoming summer transfer window.

The Red Devils boss is keen to find a new partner for Harry Maguire in central defence and Romero is said to be high on the short list that also includes Lille's Sven Botman and Sevilla's Joules Kounde, according to Sky Sports.

Romero is currently on loan with Atalanta from Juventus and has had a phenomenal season with Gian Piero Gasperini's side, who are currently second in the league behind newly crowned Serie A champions Inter Milan. The Bergamo –based club are said to be ready to fulfil their obligation to buy the centre-back this summer.

Atalanta are ready to pay the £21.5 million that is needed to fulfil their obligation and buy Romero on a permanent deal in the summer. Sky Sports reports that the Serie A high flyers will then be ready to offload the Argentine defender for a fee in the region of £34 million.

Solskjaer was initially focused on strengthening his forward line this summer but was able to convince Edinson Cavani to sign a one-year extension and remain at Old Trafford for the 2021-22 campaign. The forward's commitment has now allowed the Norwegian to focus on strengthening his midfield and defence instead.

United were linked with moves for Harry Kane and Erling Haaland of Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund respectively, but have now turned their attention to other positions. Jadon Sancho remains on the radar, but that is likely to be a protracted affair after the Red Devils tried and failed to sign him last summer.

Meanwhile, United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Solskjaer must prioritise signing a defensive partner for Maguire over everything else. The former Old Trafford stalwart is certain that a centre-back will be the main piece of the puzzle if the Red Devils want to challenge Manchester City for the title next season.

"I think Manchester United's prime position for them to strengthen, to really improve and become a team who can compete is centre-back," Ferdinand said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"To get a partner for Harry Maguire who you go, actually every week he produces, he's there. At the moment there's too many players centre-forwards especially who probably are looking when they get in the tunnel and are thinking, 'I've got a chance here. I think I can smell a chance,'" he added.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the club won't hold a Middle East training camp Paul ELLIS/AFP