Man United tells center-back they will meet £50m transfer release clause as plans take shape

Manchester United have spoken to representatives of Villarreal defender Pau Torres and are prepared to match the 24-year-old’s £50million release clause, according to reports.

The Red Devils will get a close look at the centre-back when they face the La Liga side in the Europa League final on May 26.

A trusted centre-back partner for captain Harry Maguire is high on United’s wishlist ahead of the summer transfer window.

None of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s options have convinced him that they can be the long-term sidekick to the England international.

Solskjaer has most often used Victor Lindelof next to Maguire but he has been inconsistent.

Eric Bailly suffers from similar issues and a series of injuries have hampered his progress.

Solskjaer does not seem keen on youngster Axel Tuanzebe either, despite an excellent performance in the 2-1 Champions League group stage match against Paris-Saint Germain in October.

The 22-year-old has played just 17 times this term.

Fellow defender Phil Jones looks set to depart Old Trafford after 10 years. The 29-year-old has not played since scoring in a 6-1 FA Cup thumping of Tranmere Rovers in January 2020.

Maguire’s recent ankle injury has highlighted United’s defensive issues. They have not won any of their last three matches that he has missed since being forced off late in the 3-1 victory over Aston Villa earlier this month.

Tuanzebe partnered Bailly at centre-back during their 2-1 defeat against Leicester City nearly two weeks ago.

Lindelof replaced Tuanzebe for their 4-2 reverse at home to Liverpool before the latter came back in for the Swede during their disappointing 1-1 draw with Fulham.

United have the worst defensive record among the Premier League’s top four having conceded 34 goals with one game to go.

They have already confirmed their place as runners-up to rivals Manchester City.

Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is understood to be high on United’s list of defensive targets.

Los Blancos hope to raise the required funds to sign PSG forward Kylian Mbappe this summer and could offload Varane for the right price.

Another potential signing is the 22-year-old Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde. United have allegedly already asked about the Frenchman and have been told that a £56m bid could tempt Sevilla to let him go.

And it has emerged that a third target is Villarreal man Torres.

United are willing to activate the 24-year-old’s £50m release clause, according to Spanish journalist Javi Mata.

Torres has played 32 times in La Liga this term and looks set to face Solskjaer’s side in the Europa league final in Gdansk later this month.