With Everton reportedly unwilling to sell England centre-half John Stones for less than £45m next summer, Manchester United are thought to be keeping their options open ahead of strengthening in a position that has been left shallow in recent years.
Recent rumours suggest Red Devils gaffer Louis van Gaal is keeping tabs on 21-year-old Italy youth international Daniele Rugani’s progress at Juventus, with the 6ft2in tyro struggling for game time in Turin after a fine Serie B season on loan at Empoli during 2014/15.
Vice-captain Giorgio Chiellini, 34-year-old stalwart Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, each of whom are seasoned full Italy internationals, appear to be ahead of Rugani in the Juventus centre-half pecking order, as does Uruguay’s Martin Caceras.
The Tuscany native may need to move again to fulfil his potential, with Massimiliano Allegri only granting Rugani two minutes of senior action so far this term – at the end of Juventus’ 2-0 Champions League home win over Sevilla in late September.
As it is, the cream of the Premier League are eager to make a move happen, according to certain corners of the press at least, with The Independent, Football Italia and talkSPORT all suggesting in recent days that Arsenal are in for Rugani.
Gooners saw a frightening taste of the potential future when Liverpool visited earlier this season, with Premier League centre-back rookies Calum Chambers and Gabriel taking over from regular pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
Catastrophe was only averted by the visitors’ profligate finishing, and with Mertesacker and Koscielny now both on the wrong side of 30, coach Arsene Wenger needs to freshen up.
However, rumours are now circulating regarding a Man Utd move for Rugani, which makes sense considering Chris Smalling is the only senior centre-half on the Old Trafford books who can be regularly relied upon.
In a position long neglected by the 13-time Premier League champions, reinforcement is looking urgent, so expect targets to multiply in the coming months.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.