Manchester United continue to be labeled as serious contenders to sign Chelsea’s Ashley Cole when the left-back’s contract expires next summer.

According to the Daily Mail, United and Paris Saint-Germain are heading the race for the 31-year-old’s signature as his future at Stamford Bridge becomes increasingly precarious.

Chelsea have a policy of not offering longer than one-year contracts to players over the age of 30, although Cole is believed to be intent on securing a longer deal. The club’s manager Roberto di Matteo has said that he is eager for the England international to remain at the club.

“Of course I would like him to stay here,” said Di Matteo, according to the Mail.

“That's something they have to sort out between the two parties, player and club. My recommendation, my wish is that he stays here.

“There are ongoing negotiations with the club and that is something that he discusses with the club,” he added. “My point is that I would like him to stay and be here with us.”

Cole is not the only experienced defender to be linked with United over the weekend, with the club also said to have an interest in Paris Saint-Germain’s Diego Lugano. The 31-year-old Uruguayan international has been frozen out at the Ligue 1 leaders and was not even named in their Champions League squad.

According to Portuguese publication O Bola, United could target Lugano in January. Lugano has previously been linked with a move to Brazilian club Sao Paulo, but, especially given his high salary at PSG, has indicated he would only move if he lost his place with Uruguay.

With United again suffering from a series of defensive injuries this season, Lugano could potentially be seen as a short-term option. However, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic are all due to return to fitness within the next month.

An area of the Manchester United squad that could well need strengthening is in defensive midfield, where the team has often looked brittle this season.

With that in mind, United are targeting West Brom anchorman Claudio Jacob for a January switch, according to the Sunday People. The Argentina international, only joined the Midlands side in the summer from Racing Club but has made a positive impression in his short time in the Premier League.

United have already sent scouts to watch the 25-year-old in action, according to reports.

There has also been further news about a long-time midfield target, Kevin Strootman. Metro claims that United could have signed the PSV Eindhoven star for £10 million last year, but will now have to pay £25 million to capture the 22-year-old.

Strootman’s agent recently stated that the player would remain with PSV until the end of the season, but left the possibility open for a move next summer.

Since joining PSV from FC Utrecht in the summer of 2011, Strootman has established himself as a regular in the Netherlands squad and even captained his side in the recent World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Romania.