Man Utd in unexpected transfer talks over Harry Maguire alternative

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Manchester United have made a shock approach for Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral, according to reports.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperately needs to strengthen his defensive options – and Demiral could be a cheaper alternative to Harry Maguire.

The Red Devils were linked with Matthijs de Ligt before the former Ajax captain was confirmed as a Juventus player in a £67.5million deal this week.

United are also believed to have had two bids for Maguire rejected, as his club Leicester want more than £80million for the England centre-back.

And it is de Ligt’s move to Turin that has seemingly opened the door for United and other clubs to swoop for Demiral in a bizarre transfer battle.

Merih Demiral (left) in action for Sassuolo against AC Milan – another club interested in signing him from Juventus

Turkish international Demiral, 21, only joined Juventus this month in a £16m move.

But the arrival of De Ligt has made his future unclear – and that has encouraged a scramble for his services, according to the Express .

Having bought him only a few weeks ago, Juventus are said to want at least £35million for Demiral – but that would be less than half of what Leicester are asking Solskjaer’s side to pay for Maguire.

They have reportedly already given short shrift an approach from AC Milan to take him on loan, with Juventus said to be unwilling to loan him out without a buy-back clause.

Matthijs de Ligt completed his move to Juventus this week

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United and Atletico Madrid have both reportedly spoken to Demiral’s representatives.

Demiral has clearly been bought by Juventus with the future in mind, as their long-serving centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini Leonardo Bonucci are both into their 30s. Chiellini is on the verge of turning 35 while Bonucci is 32.

But if Juventus can make more than double what they paid Sassuolo for Demiral, they may well see it as a deal worth doing – and United could get a defensive target relatively on the cheap.

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