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Man Utd ‘open talks’ for £78m Raphael Varane replacement as Liverpool and Man City circle | Football | Sport

Manchester United have commenced plans to replace Raphael Varane this summer after deciding against triggering the 12-month extension in his contract, according to reports. Erik ten Hag could oversee a centre-back shake-up in the coming months, with Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans also facing uncertain futures.

The Mail report that United didn’t trigger the extension before the January 1 deadline, leaving Varane six months away from becoming a free agent.

He is, therefore, free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs this month.

It’s claimed that United are keen to agree fresh terms lower than his current £340,000-a-week salary, and talks are planned next month.

Plans could already be in place to sign the 30-year-old’s long-term replacement, but Ten Hag faces heavyweight competition from the Premier League and elsewhere.

According to French outlet Le10Sport, United are in contact with Lille over the signing of 18-year-old centre-back Leny Yoro.

The Red Devils are said to be joined by bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in pursuit of the France U21 international.

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Paris Saint-Germain have also been credited with an interest, albeit not as advanced as the trifecta of Premier League giants.

The report adds that Lille are determined to keep hold of Yoro but would listen to offers that meet his £78million valuation.

Yoro broke into the Lille senior squad last season before becoming a crucial player this term, making 21 appearances in all competitions.

The towering 6ft 3in defender has helped Paulo Fonseca’s side keep 11 clean sheets and scored three goals.

United could be in the market for two centre-backs in the summer, with Evans also out of contract and Lindelof entering the 12-month extension in his deal, which the Old Trafford club did trigger.

Ten Hag’s strict centre-back philosophy with passing angles in mind may prompt him to pursue a left-sided star to compete with Lisandro Martinez.

But Varane, Lindelof, and, despite his recent renaissance, Harry Maguire’s unclear futures call for a right-sided addition.

Jean-Clair Todibo, Antonio Silva, Goncalo Inacio, Jarrad Branthwaite and Ousmane Diomande are among the centre-backs linked with a switch to M16 this year.

Any targets would be some of the first under the new INEOS regime, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s control over football operations now underway.

The 71-year-old agreed a £1.3bn deal for a 25 per cent stake in United on Christmas Eve. Sir Dave Brailsford has attended the two games since – and been present at Carrington.

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