Manchester United Could Use Eric Bailly in Pau Torres Pursuit

Pau Torres is one of United's top defensive targets
Pau Torres is one of United's top defensive targets / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Manchester United could use Eric Bailly in order to land defensive target Pau Torres from Villarreal, according to one report.

Despite a recent upturn in results, United's defence instability has been a cause for concern for some time.

Though the Red Devils currently have as many as six first-team centre-backs, only Harry Maguire (the club captain) and Victor Lindelof look assured of their squad places - though both have also gone through difficult spells in recent months.

Manchester United have continued to look frail defensively at times this season
Manchester United have continued to look frail defensively at times this season / Pool/Getty Images

90min understands that finding a new centre-back is a United priority for 2021, while Villarreal's 23-year-old Torres is known to be high up on the club's wish list.

However, Torres has a contract that runs until 2024, while his release clause reportedly sits at around £60m, making him an expensive option for United or any other suitor.

In order to reduce their outlay, a report from TEAMtalk claims that United could use out-of-favour Eric Bailly to help lower the price of the Spain international.

Pau Torres has seven Spain caps
Pau Torres has seven Spain caps / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

26-year-old Bailly, who has made 89 appearances for the Red Devils, joined United from Villarreal back in 2016 for around £30m but has struggled with fitness issues and form in recent years.

TEAMtalk's report does not speculate as to whether Villarreal would be even interested in a return for the defender who spent 18 months at La Ceramica prior to his big-money move to England.

Bailly has made just four appearances in all competitions for United in 2020/21 and is seemingly behind Axel Tuanzebe in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's pecking order for now.

Torres, who has been linked with a host of top European clubs, emerged from the youth ranks at Villarreal and became a first-team regular last season after an initial breakthrough loan at Malaga in the Spanish second tier in 2018/19. He has seven senior Spain caps to date.

In addition to Torres, 90min understands that United are interested in RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Brighton's Ben White.