Manchester United have contacted Paris Saint-Germain over the signing of Manuel Ugarte, multiple sources report.

The Red Devils are piecing together their plans for the summer transfer window after opting to keep Erik ten Hag as manager, and strengthening in central midfield is a priority as Casemiro and Christian Eriksen’s futures at Old Trafford look increasingly uncertain.

Ugarte, who is currently at Copa America with Uruguay, signed for Ligue 1 champions PSG last summer in a deal worth £50m and made 37 appearances in his debut campaign.

But the 23-year-old lost his place as a regular starter towards the end of the season, potentially opening the door to a summer move if any interested party presents PSG with an offer they can’t refuse.

The Telegraph report that United’s interest in Ugarte is genuine, with sources close to the club admitting that exploratory talks have been held. PSG’s stance is slightly different, alleging a formal bid has already been rejected as it falls significantly below their valuation of Ugarte.

Whether or not United move forward with negotiations remains to be seen, but it’s clear that further reinforcements are required despite Kobbie Mainoo’s emergence as a key player in the final few months of 2023/24.

United are also interested in signing a new centre-forward and centre-back. Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee, who has a £33.8m release clause written into his contract, is being targeted to provide Rasmus Hojlund with competition for places, while Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite has been strongly linked with boosting a backline that has lost Raphael Varane this summer.

Manuel UgarteManuel Ugarte

Ugarte could plug a gap at the base of United’s midfield / Franco Arland/GettyImages

ANALYSIS

United’s interest in Ugarte is further evidence that Casemiro’s time as a Manchester United player is coming to an end. The Brazilian looked a shadow of his former self during the final few months of last season and it’s clear that a move away is the best thing for both parties.

Erik ten Hag has been backed by Sir Jim Ratcliffe to fix United’s problems and there’s no perhaps greater fix required than patching things up in the middle of the park. They need a tough-tackling, mobile ball-winner who can put out fires, recover possession time and time again, and anticipate the play both in and out of possession.

United also need energy alongside Kobbie Mainoo, complementing the teenager’s skillset while allowing him to develop his own game. The likes of Eriksen and Scott McTominay simply don’t give Ten Hag what he needs. Ugarte, although 23, has enough experience to fill the void, with two successful seasons at Sporting CP backed up by a good year at PSG.

The initial feeling is that a deal for Ugarte is there to be done – rather than somebody like Joao Neves, who is simply too expensive at this moment in time – but United will need to be wary of interest from Italy. At the very least, it’s a far, far smarter signing than moving for somebody like Adrien Rabiot – a player no United fan should want to see rocking up this summer.

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