Manchester United to submit bid for Miranda

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Manchester United are confident of beating Chelsea to the signing of Atletico Madrid centre-back Miranda by tabling an £18 million (€23 million) bid when the transfer window re-opens in January.

The Red Devils were keen to sign the Brazil international in the summer, with reports in Spain even claiming United had agreed a €30 million fee with the La Liga champions, but a transfer failed to materialise.

However, fresh reports in Spain - which have been brought to our attention by the Express - understand that United will return for the defender in January. And that their bid might be big enough to tempt Atletico into selling.

Miranda remains a key player for Atletico

Atletico had already lost the likes of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Diego Ribas, while Thibaut Courtois returned to Chelsea after a third loan spell at the Vicente Calderon, so the Spanish title holders were reluctant to sell Miranda, whose partnership alongside Diego Godin was arguably the best in Europe last season.

Miranda remains a key player for Diego Simeone's side. The South American has made eight La Liga appearances for Atleti this season, scoring three goals, hence why Manchester United remain so keen to sign him.

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United have struggled defensively this season, and United boss Louis van Gaal is not convinced by any of the club's first-choice centre-backs: Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans.

Miranda now Van Gaal's No. 1 target

The Red Devils have been linked with several high-profile central defenders in recent weeks, including Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Barcelona's Gerard Pique, but it's Miranda who has emerged as Van Gaal's top target.

The 30-year-old joined Atletico from Sao Paulo in 2011 and has cemented his reputation as one of European football's most consistent and reliable defenders over the past 24 months.

Simeone desperate to keep Miranda

Simeone will be desperate to keep him at the Vicente Calderon, while Manchester United may also need to convince Miranda himself to leave his current employers for Old Trafford.

But the Madrid-club would be powerless to prevent Miranda leaving in January should the £18 million offer meet their valuation of the player.

Recent reports suggested Manchester United were even prepared to offer playmaker Juan Mata in a player-plus-cash deal, but the Spain international looks set to stay at Old Trafford, with Van Gaal preferring a straight-cash deal.

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