Man Utd to battle Barcelona to sign centre-back partner for Harry Maguire

Manchester United are looking at Villarreal defender Pau Torres to strengthen their back-line, though face competition for the Spaniard from La Liga giants Barcelona.

Although the Red Devils ended the season with the third best defence in the Premier League – only Liverpool and City conceded fewer goals – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring in a new centre-back this summer.

There have been question marks over both Victor Lindelof and even world’s most expensive defender Harry Maguire at times, while United need more depth in the position.

According to The Times, that has seen the club draw up a four-man shortlist of potential centre-back signings, with Villarreal star Torres and Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake both on the list.

Solskjaer particularly wants a left-footed centre-back to partner Harry Maguire, which would allow the England international to move to the right side of the defence.

Torres, who has enjoyed a strong campaign with Villarreal and earned a call-up to the national team, ticks that box, while he also has the speed and athleticism that United’s back-line has missed.

However, not only are Villarreal extremely reluctant to sell Torres – who came through the club’s academy – but United are not the only team looking to sign him.

According to Spanish radio station COPE, Barcelona are also keeping tabs on the 23-year-old and will make a move if they are unsuccessful in their pursuit of City youngster Eric Garcia.

Both United and Barca have been made aware that Villarreal will only let Torres – who still has four years to run on his contract – leave if his release clause is met, which stands at €50million (£45.5m).

United are expected to try and ship out several centre-backs this summer, with Chris Smalling likely to leave even if Roma do not make his loan permanent, Marcos Rojo free to leave for nothing and Phil Jones also on the chopping block.

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