Louis Van Gaal is reportedly keen to add a quality centre-back to his Old Trafford ranks, as he finds himself short of options in that position, and the 27-year-old is said to be of interest to him.
Any move for the defender would be a costly one though, with the Argentina international thought to have a buy-out clause of €60m in his contract, around £43m. According to The Guardian, though, the player will force a move from the Spanish side should any offer be made, giving United hope.
However, it now seems they will face competition from La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, with new Bernabeu boss Rafa Benitez said to be especially keen on the 27-year-old.
“We can say he is one of the four best in the world and the team that signs him will be happy,” said François Gallardo.
“Benitez has asked Real Madrid. His arrival has changed the situation of different players. We are talking about 30 or 35 million, the problem is that Barcelona are also interested, although the player would prefer to play for Real Madrid.”
The news will come as a blow to United, who are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements ahead of next season.
While a centre-back pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling worked at times for them last season, the duo are not thought to be of the level United need, especially with them returning to the Champions League next year and a potential Premier League title challenge being mooted.