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Sporting star Marcos Rojo ready to become next Red Devils defender

According to reports, Manchester United, who are 9/4 to be top northwest team this term, have set their sights on Sporting Lisbon star Marcos Rojo, with a bid of £15.9m rumoured to have already been submitted to the Portuguese club.

The Argentine defender is also tipped as a top target for the Red Devils’ Premier League rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton, with the Saints having apparently seen a £13m offer rejected.

Louis van Gaal, who desperately needs to add depth to his backline, appears to now be leading the race for Rojo’s services. The 24-year-old is reported to have a requested a transfer and refusing to train, so as not to risk injuring himself ahead of a move.

It is believed the deal now rests upon United’s ability to pay the full price upfront, with the Manchester club rumoured to favour instalments, whilst Sporting are keen to benefit from an immediate cash injection.

Rojo’s versatility and attacking prowess could potentially see him become a key man in Van Gaal’s plans if a move does materialise.

Predominantly a centre back for his club, the South American was mainly deployed as a left back for his nation at the World Cup. Equally comfortable in both roles, he would be an ideal acquisition for the Red Devils.

United’s squad lacks natural left footers, and Van Gaal is seeking cover in both centre half and wing back positions.

Having reached 28 caps for La Albiceleste and made 49 league appearances for Sporting in his two seasons at the club, Roja would be an intriguing and affordable option to compete for a spot in the Red Devils’ relatively young defence.

United’s supposed pursuit of Ajax utility man Daley Blind has also received a boost, with the Dutch defender admitting interest in a potential move away.

Speaking to gathered media, he revealed: “I am happy here in Amsterdam. But if there comes another club I will have to think about it and then we will see. I will think about my options. For now I will focus on Ajax and we will see what happens next week.”

The Red Devils need to act quickly in the transfer market, with deals seeming to stall following the quick captures of midfield maestro Ander Herrera and left back Luke Shaw.

It appears Van Gaal has already missed out on his top two defensive targets, with Arsenal plumping to sell Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, and Dortmund remaining resolute over Mats Hummels.

In what will be a blow to the Red Devils, Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp recently insisted his new skipper was “going nowhere. He is staying with us.”

United are still linked to a host of backline options, including Roma star and rumoured Chelsea target Mehdi Benatia, and Real Madrid centre half Raphael Varane, but it would take huge bids to prise them from their respective clubs.

Blind and Rojo appear to be far likelier targets, as the Old Trafford club approach the final stretch of the transfer window, having seen noisy neighbours Manchester City swoop for Eliaquim Mangala.

Former Red Devils club captain and right back Gary Neville has also put forward his views on United’s title prospects. The Class of ’92 star believes further additions are needed in midfield and defence, stating: “Unless two or three players come in I don’t think it’s realistic that [Van Gaal] can win the league this year.

“If they can get the back right and find a solution in midfield – Carrick’s out for two or three months so they need to sign another top midfield player – and stay injury-free then they do have a chance.”

United, 5/1 to win the Premier League, will need to act swiftly if any new acquisitions are to gel in time for the Manchester club’s first three Premier League fixtures with Swansea City, Sunderland and Burnley.