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Man United 'facing competition from European duo to sign Ligue 1 defender'

Man United 'facing competition from European duo to sign Ligue 1 defender'
© Reuters
Manchester United must reportedly fend off the threat of Atletico Madrid and AC Milan to sign Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo this summer.

Manchester United must reportedly fend off the threat of two European heavyweights if they are to acquire one of their top defensive targets this summer.

In Sir Jim Ratcliffe's first summer transfer window since his minority purchase of the Red Devils, the INEOS founder's footballing department should oversee radical changes in defence.

Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans are both out of contract in June, and while the former's deal includes a one-year extension option until the end of the 2024-25 season, it has not been triggered.

In addition, the long-term futures of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have frequently been called into question, leaving Lisandro Martinez and Willy Kambwala as the only two centre-backs assured of their spots in the squad for next term.

Among the names linked with a switch to the Theatre of Dreams is Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo, a former Barcelona product who has quickly become one of the most in-demand defenders in Ligue 1.

AC Milan, Atletico Madrid join Man United in Todibo race

Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo pictured training on August 5, 2023© Reuters

The 24-year-old initially joined Les Aiglons on loan from Barcelona midway through the 2020-21 season, briefly forming a partnership with Arsenal-owned William Saliba before joining permanently for £7.3m that same summer.

Todibo, who also had spells as Toulouse, Schalke 04 and Benfica, boasts two goals and three assists from 133 matches in the Nice kit and has started 27 Ligue 1 matches this season, playing his part in 14 clean sheets.

The centre-back also earned his first two senior caps for France last year, and according to L'Equipe - via Get French Football News - AC Milan and Atletico Madrid are also interested in his services.

The report claims that Atletico, who will lose Mario Hermoso when his deal expires this summer, have made Todibo a priority signing, while Milan are currently lurking in the background.

Man United are hopeful that Ratcliffe's affiliation with Nice could propel them to the head of the queue, but Todibo still has three years left to run on his contract with the French outfit.

Which other centre-backs are on Man United's radar?

OGC Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo during the warm up before the match  on December 9, 2023© Reuters

As such, the Red Devils are not putting all of their eggs into the Todibo basket and are believed to be running the rule over a few central candidates in the Premier League and abroad.

Breakout Everton star Jarrad Branthwaite is believed to be at the top of Man United's shortlist, but Real Madrid are also tracking the 21-year-old, whose signature will be more difficult to come by now that the Toffees have secured Premier League survival.

In terms of other Premier League-proven options, Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi could be available for a little bit less, although a fee of £55m may still be required for the former Chelsea man.

Such a figure would pale in comparison to the £85m that Barcelona apparently want for Ronald Araujo, but Erik ten Hag's side are nevertheless said to be preparing to open talks with the Spanish champions over a move for the Uruguayan.

Blaugrana teenagers Pau Cubarsi and Mikayil Faye were thought to be of interest to Man United too, but the pair are considered untouchable by Camp Nou chiefs.

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