Man Utd ‘target second defender’ alongside Jarrad Branthwaite as INEOS flex their muscles – Football News

Man Utd ‘target second defender’ alongside Jarrad Branthwaite as INEOS flex their muscles

Man Utd are eyeing a second defender. (Image: GETTY)

Manchester United are seriously considering launching a pursuit of Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt this summer, according to reports. The Red Devils are said to view De Ligt as a separate signing to first-choice target Jarrad Branthwaite rather than an alternative option if Everton block a transfer.

Erik ten Hag is strongly expected to bolster his defensive options in the coming months ahead of his third season in charge.

Raphael Varane’s contract expires and Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof enter the final year of their deals this weekend, making the centre-back position a matter of priority.

United have been linked with multiple names alongside Branthwaite, including Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo and Leny Yoro of Lille.

But according to The Athletic, De Ligt has emerged as an increasingly likely candidate to strengthen Ten Hag’s back line this summer.

While no negotiations are thought to have taken place yet, United are seriously considering a swoop for the 24-year-old.

De Ligt is reportedly a concrete target, having been on the club’s radar since thriving under Ten Hag as an Ajax academy graduate.

After leaving Amsterdam for Juventus in 2019, he joined Bayern three years later and has made 73 appearances across his two seasons at the Allianz Arena.

Man Utd are interested in Matthijs de Ligt.

Man Utd are interested in Matthijs de Ligt. (Image: Getty)

The report adds that Ten Hag is very much on the same wavelength as United in their interest in De Ligt, having previously coached him.

The Dutchman has made a habit of recruiting players he already knows and trusts during his two-year reign at Old Trafford. Lisandro Martinez and Antony followed him from Ajax for a combined £143million in 2022.

Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia, Wout Weghorst, Andre Onana, Sofyan Amrabat and Mason Mount also have experience playing in the Eredivisie.

Ten Hag’s mixed success using that transfer strategy was thought to have prompted INEOS to reduce his involvement with recruitment and limit his responsibilities to coaching.

The appointment of a new chief executive, sporting director and technical director strongly pointed towards that being the case.

But De Ligt’s positioning on United’s centre-back shortlist could suggest the 54-year-old boss has retained some power over transfers as part of negotiations over a new contract.

That said, the Bayern star wouldn’t be in the frame if INEOS weren’t convinced amid a ruthless upheaval as Sir Jim Ratcliffe pushes for change.

Ten Hag is also set to be joined by two new Dutch assistant managers at Old Trafford, club icon Ruud van Nistelrooy and Go Ahead Eagles head coach Rene Hake.

The coaching shake-up was likely a shared decision between Ten Hag and INEOS, bringing fresh ideas to Carrington to avoid another disappointing season.