Manchester United are reportedly keen on Inter Milan central defender Jeison Murillo. The Red Devils could also be in the market for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, amid reports potentially incoming manager Jose Mourinho has made contact with the Swedish striker.
At the moment, United are keeping an eye on Murillo's performances, according to David McDonell of the Daily Mirror: "Colombia international Murillo has caught the Old Trafford giants' eye, according to reports in Italy, with Inter said to want upwards of £15million for the 23-year-old."
McDonnell also noted how concerns over Daley Blind's ability to play the position, as well as Phil Jones' struggle to stay fit, are driving the interest in Murillo.
United do need more pace and strength at the heart of defence. While Chris Smalling has made tremendous strides under the stewardship of manager Louis van Gaal, finding a suitable partner for the England international hasn't been easy.
Blind commonly gets the nod no doubt because of his ability on the ball, a quality suited to the possession-based game Van Gaal preaches. But the former Ajax man lacks the strength and athleticism to be a force in the air or to handle robust and pacy strikers at close quarters.
Murillo has the physical qualities to be an obvious upgrade on Blind and form a formidable pairing with Smalling. His speed across the ground would be welcome in what's been a sluggish, cumbersome defence at times this season.
Of course, any plans like that are likely to change if Mourinho replaces Van Gaal. The Portuguese, who has reportedly been offered a three-year, £60 million contract, per the Sun's Neil Custis, will naturally have his own ideas about who to bring in.
One idea of Mourinho's is reportedly to try to sign Paris Saint-Germain attacking talisman Ibrahimovic. Football agent Mesrun Izzet told Turkish source Radyospor (h/t Metro's Mark Brus) Mourinho has retained an interest in the 34-year-old striker, but any deal is dependent on one important factor:
Izzet told Radyospor that Jose Mourinho wanted to sign him with Chelsea and remains a big fan of the Swedish forward.
He added that if Mourinho takes over at Old Trafford and they qualify for the Champions League, then a deal for Ibrahimovic could well be on the cards.
Izzet is believed to have close relations with Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola and he insists that United can sign him if those conditions are met.
Ibrahimovic makes sense for any top club, despite entering the winter of his career. The towering Swede would be the provocative force Mourinho loves to lead the line. He relied on Didier Drogba and then Diego Costa to do the same at Chelsea.
Ibrahimovic would give United goals and assists while transforming the way the team plays in the final third. The Red Devils need that kind of transformation after scoring just 38 goals in 30 Premier League games this season, per the division's official site.
Earlier this month, French publication L'Equipe (h/t Goal.com) indicated United also see Ibrahimovic as a possible "mentor" for young forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Landing Ibrahimovic would be a welcome coup for Mourinho, should the ex-Chelsea gaffer get the job to rebuild United. But it will be as important for whoever is in charge to address the team's inconsistent back four. A player on the rise like Murillo would be an excellent addition in this area.