John Stones
Louis van Gaal has identified Everton defender John Stones as the perfect candidate to ease Manchester United's defensive woes  Getty

Manchester United are reportedly preparing a move for Everton defender John Stones, who has risen to be one of the top young defenders in the Premier League in the last couple of seasons.

According to the Daily Mail, Louis van Gaal has identified the young Englishman as the perfect candidate to shore up the Red Devils' defence, which was their weak link at the start of last season's campaign.

The Old Trafford club have failed to replace Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand who left the club last summer, and the manager has tried various combinations at the heart of the United defence, with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett being used at various points during the season with varied results.

Van Gaal has made bolstering his back line a priority this summer and has constantly been linked to players from all across Europe. Mats Hummels along with Nicolas Otamendi are the most frequently talked about players touted with a possible move to the 20-times English champions.

Stones has established himself as one of the key players in the Toffees first-team over the last couple of seasons and over the 2014/15 campaign, he has made the central defensive role his own alongside Phil Jagielka.

The 21-year-old defender, who is currently with the England U21 team preparing for this summer's U21 European Championships in the Czech Republic, has attracted attention from more than one Premier League club with Chelsea looking for a long-term replacement for John Terry.

The versatile defender, who can also play as a right-back, recently signed a new contract with the Merseyside club, keeping him at Goodison Park until at least the summer of 2019.