Manchester United plotting January move for former Barcelona centre-back as Erik ten Hag seeks defensive reinforcements: report

Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo (right) in action against Brest in Ligue 1 in October 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Manchester United are expected to prioritise the signing of a top centre-back in January and could be back in for Nice's former Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo.

United hold a long-standing interest in Todibo and identified the French international as a target in the summer, but the move did not go ahead after Harry Maguire rejected a £30 million transfer to West Ham.

Todibo started his career at Toulouse and joined Barcelona as a teenager, but was quickly moved on despite a couple of impressive showings for the Catalan club.

After making minimal impact in loan spells at Schalke and Benfica, the French defender has found some stability at Nice and is now part of the international setup with Les Blues.

According to The Mirror, United are set to reactivate their interest in Todibo as they seek to strengthen their back line in January, although the Red Devils could also face competition from Newcastle.

His club Nice are owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS group, prospective buyers of United, and that could complicate a deal in future if the organisation ends up investing in the 13-time Premier League winners.

Asked about the failed move to United by L'Equipe recently, Todibo said: "I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't have the thought to tell myself that perhaps I should play in a 'top club' to increase my chances [of playing for France], but there are also guarantees when playing at Nice.

"I experienced it differently from my previous situations in my career. My thinking was much more in-depth, thoughtful. I didn't want to make a mistake in my choice. I remained very calm.

"Reflection is much more important than when I started. I'm waiting to be presented with the complete project.

"What is expected of me? Why am I coming? You shouldn't arrive at a club like that. I know what I have at Nice. Why go into the unknown? So, everything must be clear. My first transfer, I was 18 years old. The thinking was not as thorough."

Todibo is expected to cost around £35m, with Barcelona set to receive a 20% share of any fee paid to Nice.

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