9 players who Manchester United could realistically sign this summer

Man Utd transfer news

It doesn’t look like Jose Mourinho will be getting his mitts on Antoine Griezmann – but the well-used chequebook is sure to come out with a return to the Champions League next season

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Stefan de Vrij (Lazio)

Stefan de Vrij

De Vrij helped Lazio to fifth place in Serie A last term

United were far from perfect last season, but Mourinho deserves credit for overseeing a very respectable defensive record – 29 goals conceded in 38 Premier League games – with a backline which didn’t always inspire great confidence.

Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia enjoyed excellent campaigns but upgrades are required elsewhere, and De Vrij is someone United should be looking at as they seek to challenge for the title.

The Dutchman, who was linked with an Old Trafford switch during Louis van Gaal’s time in charge, may be available for a cut-price fee as he enters the final year of his Lazio deal. Commanding, clever and composed, he could be just the man Mourinho is after.

Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich)

United tried to sign Sanches last summer, but the Portuguese midfielder opted for Bayern a few weeks before helping his country to international glory at Euro 2016.

To say things haven’t gone to plan in Bavaria is an understatement, though: Sanches managed just six Bundesliga starts under Carlo Ancelotti last season and frequently looked far too raw for a £30m player. The talent’s clearly there, though, and at 19 there’s still plenty of time for improvement. Reports in Germany suggest Bayern are open to offers; United would be wise to consider making one.

Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku looks set for Chelsea, but agent Mino Raiola has strong ties with United

"I don't want to stay at the same level. I want to improve and I know where I want to do that," Lukaku said cryptically on Monday. It’s not yet clear which club he was referring to – although Chelsea appear to be favourites – but the Belgian may not get his way if Everton simply opt to sell to the highest bidder.

The Toffees are also thought to be interested in Wayne Rooney, which could put United in the driving seat for the Belgian’s signature. Lukaku’s track record of scoring goals in the Premier League will no doubt appeal to Mourinho, who is reportedly prioritising a striker after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cruciate ligament injury.