Manchester United have reportedly identified Borussia Dortmund centre-back Dan Axel-Zagadou as a potential alternative to Dayot Upamecano, with Liverpool sniffing around the RB Leipzig defender.
United are believed to be on the hunt for a new centre-back.
A mediocre start to the season saw them ship 14 goals in their first seven games, with six of those goals coming in a stunning 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have earned their fair share of criticism this season, with Axel Tuanzebe even filling in at times and receiving praise for his performances at the back.
United reportedly wanted to sign a new centre-back during the summer transfer window, but were unable to.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to have told Ed Woodward that he wanted Upamecano to be signed during the summer, but they prioritised other targets instead.
Now, however, they apparently have Dortmund’s Axel-Zagadou as an alternative target.
The 21-year-old has just over 18 months remaining on his current contract, and has been tipped to leave before that time comes in order to avoid Dortmund losing him for free.
He is seen as a future world-class centre-back, and could be fairly costly for United.
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However, they could be backed into a corner, with Liverpool set to go after their prime target – Upamecano.
The Premier League champions are desperate for a new centre-back after news that Joe Gomez will likely miss the rest of the season through injury.
The defender underwent surgery to repair a tendon in his knee, and has no timetable set for his return.
Gomez joins Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho in the treatment room, leaving Jurgen Klopp short of options at the back.
For that reason, they are expected to go all-out to sign a new centre-back in January, with Upamecano at the top of their list.
The RB Leipzig star is widely regarded as one of the best young defenders in the world, and was linked with a move away in the previous transfer window.
The Premier League champions were originally expected to wait until next summer before launching a move for a new centre-back, but are now set to pounce in January.
Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of the Frenchman, and wanted to bring him in during the summer.
And Reds icon Steve Nicol believes signing Upamecano is paramount to their Premier League title defence.
He told ESPN FC: “Oh my goodness, [Liverpool’s title chances] drop a good 20, 25 per cent from where they were, without Van Dijk.
“I think right now Liverpool absolutely, because of this injury, have to go out and spend a lot of money. Joe Gomez, at 23 years of age, has already had two major surgeries. That means the chances of it happening again rise.
“You’re talking about percentages of Liverpool defending [the title], you talk about percentages of a player having another bad injury. So I think this forces them into it and they should go and get Upamecano.”
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