KEY POINTS

  • Manchester United has Kalidou Koulibaly, Dayot Upamecano and James Tarkowski on its radar, a report said
  • United wants to pursue the three highly-rated stars next summer to avoid paying a higher premium in January
  • The Red Devils may face obstacles in securing a deal for each player

Manchester United is keen on bolstering its back department and may pursue Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Burnley’s James Tarkowski next summer, a report said.

Signing a central defender has become United’s top priority for the summer of 2021. The Athletic reported that the club has three highly-rated center-backs on its radar – Koulibaly, Upamecano and Tarkowski.

According to the report, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is aiming to work on the transfers in the summer as the club would have to shell out more money if it decides to push through with the plan in the January window. However, United may face a few hurdles if the club wants to bring in one of these stars.

Koulibaly was a target of a number of big-spending clubs this summer, including Manchester City. But apart from City’s interest, Napoli is also confident that the Senegalese star is not going anywhere anytime soon.

"I think Koulibaly is staying, we are very happy and so is he,” Napoli director Cristiano Giuntoli recently said. “I believe that he is staying."

Upamecano’s move to Old Trafford, on the other hand, is still not a done deal as reigning Premier League champion Liverpool is also tailing the Leipzig defender. Both Jurgen Klopp’s side and United are expected to compete for Upamecano next summer, German outlet Bild reported.

As for Tarkowski, United may have to beat Leicester City as the Foxes had shown interest in the 27-year-old. The Telegraph reported that Leicester was closing in on signing Tarkowski last month, with the player said to be keen on joining Brendan Rodgers’ side. Prior to the closing of the transfer window, the English club intensified its move and negotiated with Burnley over its £40 million ($52 million) asking price, per the report.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United are just outside the Champions League places Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United are just outside the Champions League places Photo: AFP / Paul ELLIS

This year, the Red Devils managed to bring in a few signings on deadline day, including former Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani and Porto star Alex Telles. However, the club failed to address its glaring need for a well-rounded center-back.

The void in the back department is already taking its toll on Solskjaer’s side early in the season. In fact, United has conceded three goals at home against Crystal Palace and twice against Brighton. Ultimately, the club suffered a humiliating 6-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

United splurged a staggering £80 million ($104 million) on Harry Maguire last summer, but the squad evidently needs a suitable back-up.