According to the Daily Express, Roma chief Walter Sabatini is in London this week for transfer talks with Chelsea, who are keen on the Moroccan international. But Van Gaal is desperate to strengthen his defence and Benatia is one of his targets.
United meeting too?
And the report claims newspapers in Italy speculate that Sabatini may also be in England to hold discussions with United over Benatia too.
The United manager is also working on a deal for versatile Sporting defender Marcos Rojo, who starred for Argentina at the World Cup. But complications regarding the player's third party ownership has forced Van Gaal to consider alternatives.
Benatia would be much more expensive than Rojo. Reports earlier this week suggested Manchester United had offered around £18m for the Argentine international, while United have reportedly made a £24m bid today for Benatia.
Difference in valuation
Roma value the centre-back at £30m, so it's likely this transfer is one that will go down to the wire with the deadline on September 2.
United clearly need additions in the position, as Van Gaal is without Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are the senior centre-backs available to him, and Tyler Blackett was called up by Van Gaal for his Premier League debut against Swansea.