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Aug 13, 2014

Man United target Mehdi Benatia

ESPN FC's Stuart Holden and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard don't share the same view on Manchester United's title chances this season.

Manchester United are turning their interest to Roma centre-half Mehdi Benatia as manager Louis van Gaal remains determined to bring in defensive reinforcements before the Premier League kicks off on Saturday, sources have told ESPN.

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The new manager want to sign at least two out of three current defensive targets -- Ajax's Daley Blind, Sporting Lisbon's Marcos Rojo and now Benatia, although Chelsea retain a tentative interest for the Roma defender. The Moroccan would cost around 30 million pounds.

Sources have also said Van Gaal is getting increasingly impatient about the lack of transfer activity. Although Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera arrived this summer, both of the deals were effectively finalised last season, meaning there have been no real new buys since last season ended.

Is Mehdi Benatia already preparing to leave Roma barely a year after joining?
Mehdi Benatia is the latest name to come up in Manchester United's search for defensive depth.

Van Gaal did sign off on those two players, but he expected to have the majority of United's business done by Friday -- the day before they face Swansea City at Old Trafford to open the new campaign.

The Dutch manager was said to be particularly agitated at the failure to complete a deal for new Barcelona signing Thomas Vermaelen, given that United for a long time believed his arrival was virtually assured.

There is also frustration over the Arturo Vidal saga, although it is understood that Juventus have proven difficult to even discuss terms with because of the ructions at the Italian club with the departure of Antonio Conte. United remain interested in the Chilean, as well as Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria, but the latter still prefers a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Old Trafford club are also prepared to go back to Sporting Lisbon and renew interest in William Carvalho if they fail to bring in Vidal, although they may yet face competition from Arsenal. Van Gaal remains a huge admirer of Kevin Strootman too.

Tne United source stated that the very sudden interest in Rojo did recall the latter stage of the 2013 summer window, given that the Argentine defender's name had not been mentioned much as regards the market in the previous few weeks. However, that could also be down to the fact that Van Gaal does not want to waste time, and expects quick movement once he makes decisions.

So far, that has not been the case.

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