Man Utd chief Ed Woodward takes first step to hijack Real Madrid transfer plan

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has opened talks with Monaco over a potential transfer for their 19-year-old centre-back Benoit Badiashile, according to reports in France. Real Madrid are also in negotiations with the youngster, who has drawn many comparisons to Rafael Varane.

United are in the market for a new defensive partner for Harry Maguire as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to complete his squad overhaul.

Bournemouth ace Nathan Ake was looked at but Manchester City are on the verge of capturing the Dutchman.

Another option the Red Devils are considering is Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes, whose agent has flown to the UK for talks with Woodward.

United are keeping their options open and have apparently started to negotiate a fee with Monaco for Badiashile.

French outlet TF1 claim Solskjaer is keen to add the speedy defender to his ranks.

However, Spanish publication AS claim Real have had initial conversations with the 6ft 4in star’s camp.

Bayer Leverkusen, who could lose midfielder Kai Havertz to Chelsea, are also in the race.

Badiashile made 20 appearances across all competitions this season and could be available for around £27million.

The France under-19 international has drawn comparisons to fellow countryman Varane, who also began his career in Ligue 1.

The ex-Lens defender moved to Real in 2011 and has gone on to have a glittering career which has seen him win four Champions League titles.

Meanwhile, former United defender Gary Pallister has urged Solskjaer to add another defender to his squad.

“[Victor] Lindelof has had a really good season as well,” he said.

“I think after his first year we looked at him and thought, ‘Has he really got the physicality for the Premier League?’

“He’s not as dominant as Harry but I think he’s complimenting him. He’s got the hang of the Premier League now, the physicality of it, the pace of it. I think he’s gone strength to strength.

“But I still think we need another big, powerful, dominant centre-half at the club.

“I think it’s one of the things you’d be looking at. If you get [Eric] Bailly fit and he gets a run of games there’s potential there – he’s a bit rash at times.

“But I think if Ole is looking at the squad, I think everyone has been talking about another dominant centre-half.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ole was looking in that direction.”

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