Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has approved a summer move for Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne.
This is according to the Mirror, who understand United are hopeful of signing the 23-year-old England international whose contract expires in the summer of 2016.
Clyne has refused to put pen to paper on a new deal with the south-coast club, meaning United should be able to sign the full-back for a much cheaper price than the £27 million paid to Southampton for Luke Shaw last summer.
Van Gaal is not convinced by United’s current first-choice right-back Rafael, while Antonio Valencia’s natural position is further up the pitch, despite the fact he has deputised well in that full-back role in recent seasons.
United have been linked to several right-backs recently - including Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Everton’s Seamus Coleman - but Clyne now appears to be at the top of Van Gaal’s wish-list.
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Alves and Coleman unlikely to arrive
Alves is a free agent this summer but would command hefty wages plus a significant signing-on fee. It is also not beyond the realms of possibility that the Brazil international will end up staying at the Camp Nou, with Barcelona unable to sign a replacement until January because of a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
Coleman, meanwhile, would cost a fortune to sign from Everton due to the fact he is tied to Goodison Park until 2019 - and Van Gaal may believe the Republic of Ireland international is not worth the £20 million-plus asking price based on his performances this season.
Paddy McNair U-turn
Interestingly it seems Van Gaal has performed a U-turn on Manchester United youngster Paddy McNair, who was tipped by his manager to become the Red Devils’ first-choice right-back for the next decade following his display against Cambridge United in the FA Cup earlier this month.
Van Gaal may have already scrapped that idea after subbing the 19-year-old off at half-time against Swansea City on Saturday.
Decent first summer signing
Clyne was linked with Manchester United prior to his move to Southampton from Crystal Palace in 2012.
The Stockwell-born defender, who made his England debut last year, has been a magnificent signing for the Saints and is firmly on course to develop into one of the Premier League’s best right-backs.
With Rafael’s career in danger of stagnating - and his hot-headed nature showing no signs of disappearing any time soon - Clyne would be the perfect first summer signing in what promises to be another fascinating transfer window for the Red Devils.
Manchester United fans: is Clyne a better right-back than Rafael? Have your say in the comments below!