Manchester United are reportedly keeping a close eye on the progress of RB Leipzig centre-back Castello Lukeba.
The 20-year-old rose through the ranks at Lyon before making the move to the Red Bull Arena this year, commanding a fee of €30m (£26.3m) to depart the Groupama Stadium.
Lukeba has taken no time at all to cement a regular starting role in the heart of the Roten Bullen defence, already making 16 appearances in all competitions for Marco Rose’s team this season.
Lukeba has not missed a single minute of Champions League action for Leipzig in the current campaign, and he scored his first goal for the club against Bayern Munich at the end of September.
The defender’s rise to prominence saw him win his first senior cap for France in last month’s friendly win over Scotland, and he wore the captain’s armband for the Under-21s in a 2-0 loss to Austria on Friday.
Leipzig have Lukeba under contract until the summer of 2028, but the 2002-born centre-back is already being tipped to advance his career elsewhere with another elite European club.
According to Bild, Man United have been monitoring Lukeba for some time and have watched the Frenchman “again and again” during the current campaign as they weigh up a future move.
Erik ten Hag’s defence was a vital component of their success in the 2022-23 season, as the central pairing of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez helped David de Gea keep a league-high 17 clean sheets.
However, the Red Devils’ backline has been forcibly rejigged due to injuries this season, as Martinez is expected to be out until January with an aggravation of his serious foot problem from the end of last season.
Varane has also struggled to maintain full fitness in the current campaign, and even with the World Cup winner now back to peak condition, he has often been consigned to the bench under Ten Hag.
Varane has supposedly accepted Ten Hag’s decision to relegate him to a peripheral role, as Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans compete for the right to shield Andre Onana
The Frenchman’s demotion to the bench has naturally raised questions surrounding his long-term future, though, as clubs in Saudi Arabia are reportedly lining up offers.
It remains to be seen if Evans will be handed a new contract beyond the end of next season too, but with the Northern Irishman turning 36 in January, he is not a solution for years to come.
Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo, Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah and Sporting Lisbon’s Goncalo Inacio are also being linked with moves to Man United, who are apparently set to prioritise defensive reinforcements in the January window.
Ten Hag’s men sit sixth in the Premier League table and return to action after the international break with a trip to Everton on November 26.