Real Madrid defender Pepe has emerged as a transfer target for Manchester United Getty

Manchester United are considering a move in signing Real Madrid defender Pepe, according to the Mirror.

The 32-year-old has been one of the key players for the Spanish capital club. He and Sergio Ramos were the first choice centre-back pair since 2007. He has one year left on his contract with his current employers and is yet to be handed a new deal.

Louis van Gaal was keen on bringing Ramos to Old Trafford in the summer transfer window. However, Marca claims the Spain international will snub a chance to join the English side and sign a new deal at Real.

The La Liga giants have appointed Rafael Benitez as their new manager. The Mirror claims the former Liverpool boss prefers Ramos and Raphael Varane as the first choice central defensive pair for the new season.

Pepe will be the third choice defender during the team selection and it is unlikely he will get regular playing time. With United set to miss out on Ramos, the Dutchman has turned his attention in signing the Portuguese international.

Real could be open in allowing their star defender move to England, and as he has already been offered to potential suitors by the 10-time European champions.

Varane is emerging as one of the best centre-backs in Europe and are keen to keep him at the club by handing him more playing time. Another report from Marca claims the situation has seen Pepe drop down the pecking order.

The French international's performance has seen him attract interest from top European clubs. Real want to fend off any potential suitors and want to hand Varane a new deal for his form and patience.

Real also have the services of Nacho, who signed a contract extension until 2021 and Jesus Vallejo. The latter was the club's latest summer signing as he arrived at Santiago Bernabeu from Real Zaragoza.

With the Spanish open to the idea of letting Pepe leave, United could make an approach for him this summer. Should he move to England, the defender's experience and leadership skills will be vital for Van Gaal's side in 2015/16 season.