Manchester United transfer news: Jarrad Branthwaite, Leny Yoro and Matthijs de Ligt 'in defensive sights'

Manchester United look to be making a serious play to retool their defensive options this summer with Jarrad Branthwaite, Leny Yoro and Matthijs de Ligt all reportedly in their sights as the transfer window officially opens for business.

The Red Devils, with part-owners Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team now controlling the football operation at Old Trafford, are expected to embark upon a drastic summer overhaul of a squad which won the FA Cup but also crashed to their lowest-ever Premier League finish this season, having finally confirmed that manager Erik ten Hag will be staying on as they look to agree a contract extension following a lengthy performance review.

Defence was always going to be a priority area during such a significant reshaping, with United having seen Raphael Varane depart as a free agent at the end of his contract.

This season’s injury crisis under Ten Hag was particularly hard-hitting at the back, with the likes of Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, Varane and Jonny Evans all having spells on the sidelines, along with left-backs Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, the latter of whom did not play at all this term.

Targets: Manchester United are looking to strengthen significantly in defence this summer (Getty Images)
Targets: Manchester United are looking to strengthen significantly in defence this summer (Getty Images)

Now United appear to be moving ahead with their plans to strengthen massively in the centre of defence, with The Times reporting that they have agreed personal terms with Jarrad Branthwaite, Everton’s prized and versatile asset who was deemed by many as unlucky to be cut from Gareth Southgate’s final 26-man England squad for Euro 2024 last week despite only making his senior international debut in the 3-0 friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, a deal looks far from guaranteed at this stage, with suggestions that Everton will demand around £70million-£80m for the 21-year-old, who enjoyed a breakout campaign at Goodison Park as the Toffees avoided relegation from the Premier League once again under Sean Dyche despite being hit by two separate points deductions.

Branthwaite seems far from United’s only centre-back target, with The Athletic reporting that the Red Devils, along with fierce rivals Liverpool, are actively trying to sign 18-year-old French Under-21 international Leny Yoro.

Lille president Olivier Letang said earlier this week that Yoro and fellow United transfer target Jonathan David would likely be leaving the Stade Pierre-Mauroy this summer, having both now entered the final 12 months of their current contracts.

Chelsea have also had an interest in Yoro as they looked to replace Thiago Silva before signing Tosin Adarabioyo from Fulham, though Champions League winners Real Madrid have long since been considered as the frontrunners in the race for his signature.

Ten Hag could also yet reunite with Matthijs de Ligt after the duo previously worked together successfully at Ajax.

The Dutch defender is expected to depart Bayern Munich this summer after only two seasons as new boss Vincent Kompany targets Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah after signing Hiroki Ito from Stuttgart, with Sky in Germany claiming that United are keeping a close eye on developments over the former Juventus man.