Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is set to beat rivals Arsenal to the signing of Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte.
According to The Metro, the 20-year-old French defender is a big Manchester United fan, which has helped Van Gaal to land his top target ahead of competition from Arsene Wenger.
United have agreed to pay Laporte's full £32m release clause after Athletic refused to negotiate on his asking price. The La Liga outfit are tough negotiators, having rebuffed past United attempts to sign Ander Herrera before last summer.
As reported by the Daily Express earlier this week, Arsenal and Manchester United have been tracking Laporte for the past few months although these latest reports suggest that van Gaal has stolen a march on the Gunners.
United will look to bring him in in January, as van Gaal attempts to rebuild a defence that lost the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand over the summer.
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Marcos Rojo is still adjusting to life at United while Patrice Evra has been replaced by Luke Shaw but injury problems have forced van Gaal to turn to the likes of Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair to fill in.
The young defenders have performed admirably but for a side like United with the stated ambition of returning to the Champions League and competing for the Premier League title, they need better options in central defence.
Laporte would fit the bill, a ball playing French under-21 international who came through the youth ranks at Bilbao.
He's already made 53 appearances for the La Liga side, attracting interest from across Europe with scouts from United and Arsenal in regular attendance.
Bilbao knew they had a gem on their hands, and locked him down to a contract with a whopping £32m release clause.
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