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Manchester United to raid Madrid clubs in double defensive swoop

Manchester United (4/1 with Coral to win a major trophy) are reportedly ready to dip into the Old Trafford coffers to land Madrid-based defenders Miranda and Raphael Varane in January.

It is thought Real Madrid star Varane is the top target on Louis van Gaal’s radar, and would represent the most value for money.

Still only 21, the youngster, who is currently playing second fiddle to Pepe and Sergio Ramos, is believed to be valued by Los Blancos at around £19m.

Highly-rated Varane had previously been tracked by United before plumping for a switch to the Bernabeu in 2011.

Speaking recently about his Red Devils snub, the France international stated: “Manchester United? They had just signed Phil Jones in my position.

“My first reaction when Real wanted to sign me was not, ‘Of course I will go’. I only made my decision when I knew that the coach (at the time Jose Mourinho) wanted me to play in the first team.”

It appears Varane values game time, and his lack of starting opportunities under Carlo Ancelotti could see him keen to move on, despite only signing a new six-year contract last term.

United are rumoured to face strong competition in the hunt for centre half Varane’s signature, with Chelsea also tipped to be interested in the composed defender.

The Blues may also hold the advantage in negotiations, as Stamford Bridge boss Mourinho gave Varane his Los Blancos debut, and is believed to enjoy a strong relationship with the 15-capped Frenchman.

If the Red Devils fail in their attempts to lure Varane to Manchester once again, they could instead turn to a more experienced option.

Atletico Madrid centre back Miranda, who was a key component in Diego Simeone’s La Liga winning side last season, is also reportedly on Van Gaal’s hitlist.

In the midst of an injury crisis, Van Gaal has blooded academy products Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair with some success but, as the race for Champions League spots hots up, he may wish to turn to a more reliable option to shore up his shaky rearguard.

Atleti are unlikely to be willing to sell Brazil international Miranda, but reports suggest that United could be willing to fork out up to £20m for the 30-year-old, which may force the Spanish capital club’s hand. That mooted offer, however, is still short of the rumoured £24m release clause.

In the search to bolster their backline and reshape the squad, the Red Devils have also long been credited with an interest in Van Gaal’s former Netherlands charge Ron Vlaar.

The Aston Villa defender’s agent has done little to quash speculation, and has recently given United’s transfer hopes a boost.

Agent Arnold Oosterveer stated: “It is obvious that for Ron, now is the moment to make a nice big move in his career. I don’t want to react to the rumour that he will move to either Arsenal or Man United, but Ron is very ambitious.”

With Miranda, Varane and Vlaar all potentially up for grabs in this winter window, United may want to free up space in their squad, with out-of-favour midfielder Anderson the likeliest casualty. The Brazilian is apparently considering a return to former team Gremio, if the Red Devils (outsiders at 33/1 to win the Premier League) decide to release the 26-year-old.