Manchester United intend to sign another centre-back in the summer transfer window as they attempt to secure their porous defending.
United held exploratory discussions with the representatives of Antonio Rudiger, out of contract in Chelsea at the summer, but there is little expectation of the Germany international joining them.
Sources close to the player are more focused on discussing potential contracts with clubs guaranteed of playing in the Champions League next season. Although United are three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, their next three fixtures are away at Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as Chelsea at home.
United signed Raphael Varane from Real Madrid in the summer and while the 28-year-old has excelled in the majority of his appearances, Varane has missed 15 matches through injury or illness.
Varane was United’s first-choice target, with Villarreal centre half Pau Torres their backup option last year. Torres has helped Villarreal reach the Champions League semi-finals and is likely to start for Spain at the World Cup.
However, Thomas Tuchel has insisted he remains confident that Antonio Rudiger will stay at Chelsea. Speaking on Friday afternoon,
Tuchel said: “If it’s true, yes. I would try to meet him if I was in any other club.” Tuchel added: “Still he’s our player and I still think we have a good chance that he stays our player once things are solved for us.
“But the situation is the situation. At the moment our hands are tied. We cannot speak to him, we cannot offer him (a contract) and we cannot negotiate with him and his agent.
“So, fair enough – if it’s true – that he listens to other offers. That’s the way things go. But I’m still confident.”