Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is ready to sell Chris Smalling and Phil Jones during the summer transfer window and is urging the club's hierarchy to finance an overhaul of his defence.
Perversely, United have the best defensive record in the Premier League having shipped just 19 goals in their 27 matches in the top flight, but Mourinho believes things can improve further.
United conceded the third fastest goal in Premier League history courtesy of Christian Eriksen's strike on their way to a 2-0 loss to Spurs at Wembley, a game which saw Jones net a own goal.
After Jones was dropped for the win over Huddersfield Town, the pair were reunited for their next away game against a Newcastle side who were before the match the fifth lowest scorers in the division.
But the ex-Fulham and Blackburn Rovers centre-backs were terrorised by Dwight Gayle and Ajoze Perez throughout, before the forward teed up Matt Ritchie for a second half winner at St James' Park.
Though United have hardly been shrinking violets in the transfer market – they spent £164m in the summer according to Transfermarkt.com and also acquired Alexis Sanchez in January – Mourinho wants further additions to improve his defence.
Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool for a world record £75m [BBC Sport] and Aymeric Laporte swapped Athletic Bilbao for Manchester City for £57m [Sky Sports] last month, and Mourinho wants United to mirror that investment according to the report.
Leicester City's Harry Maguire, who could be subject of a £50m move in the summer, and Real's Raphael Varane are noted as possible targets, the publication adds.
Mourinho is not the only person skeptical over Smalling and Jones, with ex-United defender Phil Neville – the new England women's manager – having expressed his concerns over the partnership.
"They have got the best defensive record because they have the best goalkeeper in the world in David De Gea and [Nemanja] Matic out in front who protects them really well," Neville told the BBC, according to the Manchester Evening News.
"But the last two away games [against Tottenham and Newcastle], Smalling and Jones have been a disaster. Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, they got bullied."
"Against Newcastle did they make many mistakes, no, but they created a nervousness and a tension. They were making decision that were strange. They were making decisions all day where you were thinking, 'what are you doing?' They brought these two as the best young centre backs in England."