Jose Mourinho is hopeful of signing Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez in January to solve what he feels are Manchester United's most pressing issues at centre-half, club sources have told ESPN FC.
The Portuguese has become increasingly conscious of the fragility of that area of the pitch, as illustrated by a series of changes to the partnerships there. United have conceded 14 goals in 12 Premier League games this season, deepening Mourinho's preseason concerns that they need a central defensive leader.
With other areas in greater need of fixing in the summer, United didn't have as much of a budget for a centre-half, with Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci proving far too expensive.
That area is now the main target for the January window, though, and the club have already enquired about Gimenez's Atletico and Uruguay teammate Diego Godin. Although the Spanish club consider Godin unsellable, sources in both Manchester and Spain say they may be open to negotiation on his compatriot Gimenez, because the 21-year-old has recently fallen out of favour with manager Diego Simeone.
It is unknown why Gimenez has lost his place, but sources have suggested a personality clash. Gimenez is seen to have some of the old-fashioned defensive leadership abilities that Godin does, and because of that potential Atletico would want a fee of between €40 million and €50 million.
The source also revealed Southampton's Jose Fonte is still seen as a back-up option for Mourinho if a move for Gimenez fails to materialise, while United will also try to sign a fast right-back, with Monaco's Fabinho the top target.