If Manchester United end interest in £35m defender, who will they target instead?

Manchester United are linked with ending their pursuit of Porto centre back Eliaquim Mangala, leaving Manchester City favourites to snap up the Frenchman.

Mangala, who arrived in Portugal from Standard Liege in 2011, was the subject of fervent speculation in the January transfer window, as Europe's top clubs queued up to try and take the 22-year-old away from the Estadio do Dragao, but no move materialised and will now play for Porto until at least the end of this season.

One of those clubs that chased Mangala's signature was Manchester United, with manager David Moyes eyeing up new defenders, as the experienced pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand look set to leave the club at the end of the season upon the expiration of their contracts.

Mangala was seen as a potential signing for the Red Devils, but the Portuguese club are looking for a fee in the region of £35m, which has reportedly priced United out of a move – leaving local rivals Manchester City to seal his signing in the summer, after Manuel Pellegrini lined up a move for the Frenchman on deadline day.

Moyes' refusal to pay the lofty price-tag is based on him wanting to focus on other targets – but who could Moyes be eyeing up instead of Mangala?

A number of centre backs have been suggested as targets for United since the start of the season, including Ezequiel Garay, Mats Hummels and Mangala's Porto team mate, Nicolas Otamendi, but Moyes reportedly turned down the chance to sign Garay, Hummels would cost a similar amount to Mangala, whilst Otamendi looks set for a move to either Valencia or Zenit St. Petersburg.

But the primary target would appear to be Bayern Munich's Dante, with the Brazilian international admitting last month that talks were taking place between his club and Manchester United. The former Borussia Monchengladbach man has been a rock in the heart of the Bayern defence since his 2012 switch to the Allianz Arena, but could be tempted by a move away from Germany.

Moyes will need an experienced head in the centre of his defence in the absence of Vidic and Ferdinand, and 30-year-old Dante would certainly provide that alongside Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the Manchester United backline, making the Bayern man the ideal target for Moyes and United this summer.

image: © Gordon Flood

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