Harry Maguire may still be captain of Manchester United, but his future at the end of the season is increasingly in doubt as the club’s search for a new centre back gathers pace.
Maguire’s form this season has been poor, to say the least, and has been a big factor in the team’s struggles.
Recent reports have linked United with a move for Antonio Rudiger, who could leave Chelsea as a free agent this summer, Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic, Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo and Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji.
But now, Turkish outlet Fanatik claims that there is another name on United’s shortlist – that of Atalanta’s Merih Demiral.
The 24-year-old has been superb for the Bergamo side this season while on loan from Juventus and has captured the attention of both Madrid sides as well.
‘It is believed that the world giant Real Madrid has been following Merih Demiral for a long time and will make an attempt at the end of the season,’ Fanatik claims.
‘Atletico have [also] started working to add Merih Demiral to their squad… Diego Simeone was especially impressed by the football that Merih showed in the Champions League.
‘Manchester United are also closely interested in the 24-year-old … The Turkey international scored a goal in the away match against United in the Champions League this season.’
United fans will remember the 6ft 3in defender’s impressive performances in both the home and away ties in Champions League Group F.
Demiral has a modest transfer value of €30 million (£25.3m) according to transfermarkt.com.
One complication to any possible transfer is that included in the loan deal to Atalanta is an option to buy of €28 million (£23.6m), which they are expected to take up. This could allow Atalanta to simply buy the player to sell at an immediate profit, which could potentially drive the price up.
Alternatively, if Atalanta do not buy Demiral, with two years left on his Juve contract, the Old Lady may also be forgiven for demanding a premium price for their talented young star.