With Manchester United confirming that captain Nemanja Vidic will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season and no sign of a new contract for 35-year-old Rio Ferdinand, the champions will be in the market for at least one and possibly two new centre-backs this summer.
Who are they likely to want?
1. Ezequiel Garay
The Benfica defender is more in the Ferdinand mould than the Vidic one, but he is likely to be one of United’s first options in their hunt for a new centre-back.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for almost two years and that is likely to culminate with a bid this summer. He is currently trying to stave of interest from Zenit St Petersburg in the hope of getting his move to United, but Benfica have accepted a bid from the Russian side.
2. Eliaquim Mangala
United are lucky that Mangala is still on the market. Although strongly tipped for a move to David Moyes’ side, it was rivals Manchester City who launched a deadline day bid for him last month.
That deal fell through and United will now go up against City and a number of Europe’s top clubs in an effort to sign the 22-year-old France international this summer.
3. Fabian Schar
The young Basel defender is also wanted by Arsenal and Chelsea. The trained banker would be more of a gamble than some of the more experienced names on this list, but United have a better chance of landing the 22-year-old Switzerland international.
4. Jonathan Tah
Hamburg youngster Tah is currently being linked with a move to United. Just like Schar, he is unproven and asking him to replace Vidic would be a big ask. But the 17-year-old is showing signs that he is going to be one of the best defenders in Europe in the next couple of years.
5. Phil Jones
By far the cheapest option on the list. David Moyes could decide to give Phil Jones a run in his preferred centre-back spot. The former Blackburn man has mainly been deployed at right-back and in midfield. The departure of Vidic and Ferdinand’s probable exit could see the England international get his chance.