MANCHESTER UNITED are targeting Kalidou Koulibaly, Alessio Romagnoli and Tyrone Mings as they plot a defensive overhaul.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed to lead his side to a top-four spot on the final day of the Premier League season.
But the United chief knows if his team are to take the leap to the next level – and challenge for the title – they will need to toughen up in defence.
Liverpool have shown their fierce rivals that a world-class goalkeeper such as Alisson and elite centre-back like Virgil van Dijk can make a world of difference.
And Man Utd are now desperate to develop a rock-solid back-four next season.
United had been targeting Nathan Ake, but since his £41million move to rivals Manchester City, Solskjaer’s centre-back shortlist is down to just three.
The Norwegian is thought to be happy with the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.
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But Solskjaer wants a solid centre-back to go alongside them – as well as Chelesa target Ben Chilwell at left-back.
For now, Koulibaly – who the club have been chasing since the Jose Mourinho days – is the top target.
However, he is also on the radar of Man City and Liverpool – and could cost close to £80million.
Cheaper alternatives would be AC Milan star Romagnoli, 25, and Tyrone Mings, say ESPN.
It will be tougher to land Mings, 27, now after Aston Villa avoided relegation – but a bid of up to £30m should suffice.
Either way, United’s plan of attack this summer is clear: to bolster their defensive ranks.
Man Utd have long been linked with attacking midfielders Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho.
Sancho is set to cost over £100m, while Maddison has only recently signed a new five-year deal at Leicester – and has sparked rumours he will stay after building a rooftop bar at his home.
As well as signing Grealish, Solskjaer could therefore focus all of his energy on signing a new star defender.