Louis van Gaal has alleviated the pressure on his shoulders with three consecutive victories, including Sunday’s superb 3-2 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford, but it seems Jose Mourinho is still planning as if he’s set to become the new manager of Manchester United this summer.
The Portuguese coach clearly hasn’t been won over by United’s centre-backs because, according to Catalan newspaper Sport, he has assembled a list of five central defenders he is interested in bringing to Old Trafford this summer.
You can see the list by scrolling a little further down this page - and don’t forget to give us your thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom.
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It could be argued that Manchester United currently possess just one top-class centre-back: Chris Smalling, who has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 18 months.
Phil Jones is unreliable, Marcos Rojo is better at left-back, Daley Blind struggles against certain opponents in central defence, while Paddy McNair is still learning his trade. That United have been forced to deploy Michael Carrick in central defence in their previous two matches is evidence that another defensive signing is a must at Old Trafford this summer.
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Jose Mourinho's five-man shortlist
Here are the five centre-backs reportedly on Mourinho’s shortlist…
Marc Bartra | Barcelona
Marc Bartra, a product of the Barcelona academy, may leave the reigning European champions this summer in search of regular first-team football.
The 25-year-old has made nine La Liga appearances this season, with Luis Enrique preferring to partner Javier Mascherano or Jeremy Mathieu alongside Gerard Pique.
Marquinhos | Paris Saint-Germain
If Manchester United want to sign Marquinhos, they’ll need to fend off stiff competition from Barcelona this summer.
The Paris Saint-Germain defender, 21, has the potential to become one of the world’s best defenders. His current employers will be determined to keep him, particularly if Serge Aurier leaves the Parc des Princes this summer following controversial comments made on Periscope earlier this month.
John Stones | Everton
John Stones is also on Barcelona’s radar, as well as Chelsea’s and Manchester City’s.
Jose Mourinho tried to sign the England international last summer - while still managing at Stamford Bridge - and could return for the 21-year-old if he lands the United job. However, it’s understood that Stones could become Pep Guardiola’s first signing as City boss.
Aymeric Laporte | Athletic Bilbao
Like Marquinhos and John Stones, Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte is also wanted by Barcelona. Pep Guardiola is an admirer of the 21-year-old, too.
With a €50 million release clause in his contract, Mourinho would need to convince the United hierarchy to spend an astronomical sum to land the highly-rated French defender.
Raphael Varane | Real Madrid
And the last defender on Mourinho’s list - but by no means least, and probably the most unrealistic of the quintet - is Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane.
Mourinho signed the Frenchman from Lens while managing at the Bernabeu in 2011 and handed him his debut. Varane might be tempted by the prospect of reuniting with Mourinho at Old Trafford, but Real Madrid won’t want to sell the defender they believe will become the world’s best.
Which of the five players on Jose Mourinho’s shortlist should Manchester United sign? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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