Who is…the Villarreal defender Man Utd might fork out £31m for?

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Man Utd to win 2016/17 Premier League

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be hogging the headlines as Jose Mourinho’s first potential signing at Manchester United, but a £31m deal for a central defender should ensure the Swede isn’t under the spotlight for long.

According to Spanish publication AS, the Portuguese will bolster the Red Devils’ backline with a big-money move for Villarreal youngster Eric Bailly.

The Ivorian was a key part of the Yellow Submarine’s superb La Liga campaign in 2015/16, making 25 appearances and playing over 2000 minutes as the Estadio El Madrigal outfit finished fourth.

It was a breakout year for the 22-year-old, who had never played more than 10 league games in a season during his career in Spain.

Bailly improved with regular first-team exposure and was part of a defence that conceded the fourth-fewest in their division.

In that time Bailly registered 117 total clearances, comfortably the second-most in the side, while also blocking 16 shots and making 65 interceptions.

Moving to Old Trafford would be a huge step in the former Espanyol man’s career, but fits Mourinho’s recent method of buying centre-halves young.

The Special One purchased both Kurt Zouma at Chelsea and Raphael Varane at Real Madrid in recent stints on the sidelines and appears to prefer partnering a youthful, developing centre-half with a more senior tutor.

With many suspecting that Daley Blind will be on his way out of the club as Mourinho moulds his new squad, Bailly could well become Chris Smalling’s new central-defensive partner at the Theatre Of Dreams.

Following the former Blues icon’s arrival as manager, Manchester United moved in to 9/2 to win the Premier League next season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.