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16th Nov, 2016 | 9:45pm

Report: Man United scouts watch £18million-rated defender ahead of possible January move

By Dominic Toner

Manchester United are considering a January move for Serge Aurier, according to a report.

The Mirror claim that United have “stepped up their interest” in the 23-year-old defender and the club’s scouts watched him on Tuesday night ahead of a tie in the January transfer window.

The Ivory Coast international played in the 0-0 draw against France and United representatives were reportedly present at the friendly match.

The Mirror states that “Jose Mourinho is keen to strengthen his defensive personnel and Aurier, 23, who could cost as much as £18million, fits the bill”.

Aurier is regarded as the first-choice right-back at his club side Paris Saint-Germain and has won two league titles in France.

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The defender has made 59 appearances for PSG since his arrival from Toulouse and is regarded as one of the most consistent performers.

He also has 34 international caps for Ivory Coast and has seemingly caught the attention of Mourinho.

United have enjoyed a mixed start to the season and Mourinho has found it difficult since his summer appointment at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese manager is well renowned for being technically astute but his side have the worst defensive record out of the top six teams in the league, conceding 13 goals in the opening 11 games.

He has chosen Antonio Valencia as his first-choice right-back and Matteo Darmian is his understudy, but the area has been a weakness in the United defence.

Football Insider verdict: 

Manchester United have never fully replaced the gap left by club legend Gary Neville at right-back and emerging talent Serge Aurier could finally be the man to step up. United should pursue a January move for Aurier with Antonio Valencia far too attack-minded to be a title winning right-back, while natural defender Matteo Darmian appears out-of-favour with Jose Mourinho. Rafael was a short-term solution at right-back, lifting the Premier League title in the 2012/13 season, and centre-back pairing Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were also used for brief spells. If United are to compete for the title this season they will need a strong back four and Aurier could potentially slot in well alongside Smalling, Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw, who would give Mourinho’s side a solid defence set-up.

In other Manchester United news, European giants are in pole position to sign the club’s attacker.