Nathaniel Clyne
Clyne has been linked with a move to United next summer. Getty Images/Steve Bardens

Manchester United are preparing a shock swoop for Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne in January after contract discussions came to a halt, according to the Daily Mirror.

The England international has only 18 months left in his contract which has left Southampton in a dilemma for whether to let him leave for a sizeable fee in January or wait till the summer to evaluate proceedings.

United have been keeping tabs on the defender since 2012 but with Louis van Gaal desperate to add a proper right-back to his squad, the Red Devils are now ready to splash the cash on the 23-year-old and forge a title winning squad for next season.

They are likely to face competition from Liverpool, who are yet to offer Glen Johnson a new contract and are in the market for a full-back.

The Red Devils will face Southampton on Sunday in the Premier League at Old Trafford where Van Gaal will get a front row seat to scout his target and decide on a possible offer in January.

Rafael, who trained with the squad this week, has fractured his cheekbone, which may pose problems as the season matures, which leaves the Dutchman with no options but to delve in the market and look for reinforcements.

United are currently third in the league, nine points behind leaders Chelsea and one point above the Saints, who are in fourth.

Meanwhile, the former Barcelona manager has urged David de Gea to up his game but has also stated that Victor Valdez will not be happy being deployed as a second choice keeper and that he has to be on his toes if he needs to keep his position in the first XI.

"My ambition is that I have the best players who can collaborate with each other to form the best team in the world," he said.

"When we invited Victor in to have his rehabilitation at Manchester United, we did it for him and ourselves, so I could see if his quality is also still the same. He has confirmed both," he added.