Manchester United identify the defender they want to partner with Eric Bailly this summer

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Jose Mourinho will be far from happy that his Manchester United team are so far off the pace of Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Not only is about the hugely significant gap between the cross-city rivals, but also about the personal historic rivalry between the Portuguese and City boss over the years.

Sixteen points separate champions-elect Manchester City, who boast a far superior goal difference, and the Red Devils - in a year that Mourinho will have been desperate to push on for the title.

It will be the first time in Mourinho's managerial career at a top European club that he has failed to win the respective league title within his first two years at the club.

But it's not simply the vast quality and elegant football at the Etihad which is setting themselves apart from United  - who will undoubtedly be looking on in envy at how easily they're claiming the title.

The Red Devils have their own issues in-house too, with Alexis Sanchez having yet to make an impact since joining from Arsenal in January.

Mourinho: Timing wrong for Sanchez

“What is wrong is that he came at the worst moment – in the winter market. That’s why I don’t like the winter market very much," Mourinho said, per The Guardian.

Marcus Rashford has similarly struggled in the shadows of big-money summer signing Romelu Lukaku who has also provided fewer league goals than United would have perhaps hoped for in the summer.

But while Mourinho already has the quality in forward positions, it's at the back where he'll be expected to strengthen in the summer.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Premier League

Luke Shaw's future at the club has been in question since Mourinho arrived after he publicly criticised the former Southampton left-back.

Meanwhile, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have both struggled to live up to their expectations at Old Trafford, and the United boss is looking to bring in a new centre-back in the summer.

Tottenham's contract rebel, Toby Alderweireld, is one option for United, however, the Red Devils are more hopeful of acquiring Chelsea's £20 million target in the off-season.

United tracking Bundesliga defensive target

According to the Mirror, United have been watching Borussia Dortmund's Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos - who Mourinho hopes to partner with Eric Bailly.

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Mourinho is said to have received glowing reports of the 29-year-old, who was signed by now Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in 2013, during his tenure at the Westfalenstadion.

United could soon be benefiting from one of the Liverpool manager's former signings.

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