Manchester United are reportedly "considering" a deadline-day loan deal for a right-back to cover their injury crisis at the back for the latter half of the season.
That's according to Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News, who notes the Red Devils are "currently depleted at full-back, with Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young all sidelined through injury."
With five first-team full-backs out—not to mention Phil Jones, who has become increasingly unreliable due to injuries—recruiting a right-back to help cover United through the business end of the campaign would be highly useful.
Per Jack de Menezes of the Independent, Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal recently admitted the club have been exploring their options in the transfer market:
I have used youngsters a lot of times and they are doing great, but the level of Man United is high and to give a high performance every week is very difficult for the youngsters.
That's why we have to look especially in the transfer period for replacements, but the difficulty is we ask for a level, so we are looking but it is not easy.
Football writer Liam Canning noted the club are running out of time in which to act:
Another full-back gets injured for #mufc. Borthwick-Jackson and McNair playing as wing-backs. Not long left in the market...— Liam (@OffsideLiam) January 23, 2016
Indeed, with the transfer deadline rapidly approaching, United will need to act quickly if they're to bring in reinforcements.
If they're unable to, they can at least take some comfort from the form of young full-back options Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela, with both impressing Canning in the 3-1 win over Derby County on Friday:
Aside from Martial, Borthwick-Jackson and Varela have been the most impressive players on the pitch. Been very impressed by them both.— Liam (@OffsideLiam) January 29, 2016
United have also been linked with another hot young talent, though this time in the form of 18-year-old Benfica midfielder Renato Sanches.
Where should United most look to strengthen on deadline day?
According to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo (h/t James Orr of the Independent), United have bid £22 million for the youngster and are in "advanced talks" with Benfica.
Sanches started the season with Benfica B and scored three goals in Portugal's second tier before being promoted to the first team squad in October. He has since scored twice, including a right-footed thunderbolt from 30 yards out.
Per Portuguese football writer Jan Hagen, the midfielder has been scouted by the Red Devils repeatedly in recent weeks and has shone since forcing his way onto the senior team:
3 Benfica games in 2 weeks is pretty intense. Man United are monitoring someone and I don't think there's any doubt that's Renato Sanches.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 17, 2016
Why Renato Sanches makes sense? Nico Gaitán & Nélson Semedo has been injured, while Guedes is on bench duty. Renato got massive potential.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 17, 2016
Hagen does not believe Sanches will be moving this winter, though:
Renato won't leave. He's a fantastic prospect, but no one will pay what SLB demands[which is not €80m] for an unproven 18-year-old. Stop it.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 21, 2016
United proved they're willing to spend large amounts of money on unproven young talent when they recruited Anthony Martial in the summer, so the prospect of them doing so again isn't inconceivable.
The Red Devils are strong in central midfield, though, so if they're going to spend a significant amount of money on deadline day, it's more likely to be for a player in a more urgent position.