Manchester United received a major boost in their pursuit of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane after the Spanish club gave the defender an ultimatum with regards to his existing contract entering its final year this summer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made strengthening his backline and finding a long-term partner for Red Devils skipper Harry Maguire a priority during the upcoming transfer window and the Real defender is said to be high on the shortlist.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the La Liga giants could be forced to sell one of their biggest assets if Varane does not commit his long-term future to the Santiago Bernabeu outfit. The France international will enter the final-year of his contract in June and has yet to accept the offer on the table.

Varane joined Los Blancos in 2011 from French club Lens and has made over 220 appearances for the club winning the Champions League on four occasions. Real will not want to see the 2018 World Cup winner, who at 27 is still in his prime, leave on a free transfer next summer.

Solskjaer is keen to bring him to Old Trafford this summer and will certainly test the waters if Varane has not committed his future to the Spanish club by the time the summer transfer window approaches. Manchester Evening News believes Real could demand in excess of £80 million for the defender.

Apart from United, Premier League rivals Chelsea are also said to be interested in Varane with Blues boss Thomas Tuchel said be to be a big fan of the Frenchman. Real will be glad to host a bidding war, especially after Florentino Perez made it clear that the club was in a bad financial position.

Another Los Blancos player that is on United's radar is Sergio Ramos. The veteran defender and skipper of the Madrid-based outfit is out of contract this summer and looks almost certain to leave on a free transfer after reaching an impasse with the management over a new deal.

However, the report claims that Solskjaer's main focus is on Varane rather than Ramos, especially since the former offers a more long-term solution than the Spanish defender, who is in the twilight of his illustrious career.

Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane suffers muscular injury during Real's win over Dortmund Getty