After seeing his Manchester United side progress in the Champions League on Tuesday, David Moyes took it upon himself to go on a scouting mission to watch Atletico Madrid's European tie with Porto.
The Scotsman was present at the Vicente Calderon to witness Atletico's 2-0 victory, where visiting defender Eliaquim Mangala was allegedly at the top of the list.
While the Portuguese outfit now enter the Europa League having failed to qualify from their Champions League group, Moyes is said to have liked what he saw of the Frenchman, per the Mirror's Alan Nixon:
Spies from the Old Trafford giants have been tracking Mangala for months, as Moyes looks for a new leader at the back with Nemanja Vidic, 32, showing signs of wear and central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand, 35, also nearing the end.
As Nixon suggests, the Red Devils are hoping to beef up their defensive ranks due to several ageing stars in their back line.
Back in August Sky Sports' Pete O'Rourke, speaking in the context of Manchester City at the time, revealed one enormous obstacle Moyes is likely to face in his pursuit of Mangala, namely a €45 million release clause in his contract.
As a result, Porto will be able to hold out for a big fee for their centre-back, whose deal at the Estadio do Dragao doesn't expire for another two-and-a-half years.
Another factor, as the Guardian's Daniel Taylor stated earlier this month on Twitter, is that Mangala's agent is none other than Jorge Mendes, the Portuguese super agent whose clients tend to attract widespread attention from Europe's elite:
The 22-year-old made his debut for the French national team in June of this year, but has since failed to earn another appearance under Didier Deschamps.
Despite their disappointing start to the campaign, United have actually conceded less goals this term than they had at this stage of last season's title-winning term. The main difference has been an inability to put the ball in the back of the net with the same frequency.
With Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling likely to form the crux of Moyes' central defence in the seasons to come, it's possible that Porto's French stalwart is seen as the man to lead that trio as a new era dawns at Old Trafford.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!