Manchester United are strongly linked with a move for Real Madrid's Raphael Varane this summer.

The MEN understands the Spanish giants are willing to sell the imperious centre-back at the end of the campaign, and his arrival would transform United's last line of defence.

Still only 27 years of age, Varane has won virtually everything there is to win in the game including the World Cup, the Champions League, La Liga and everything in between.

He's formed part of a highly capable defence at the Santiago Bernabeu for the majority of the last decade, with the Frenchman benefiting from his extremely well-rounded skill set throughout his career.

He can contribute with the ball at his feet, he's rarely injured, he's strong in the air and crucially, he's very physically mature.

Standing 6-foot-3, Varane is imposing enough to dominate opponents while also having enough speed attached to his game to manage dangerous balls in behind.

The latter quality is one that has been missing at Old Trafford in recent years; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's preferred duo of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have their strengths as a pairing, but both players lack pace.

United's defensive line tends to be deployed higher than most, but it also has a tendency to retreat in certain moments and that doesn't always help the team's ability to keep the opposition from scoring.

Gary Neville has touched on the trait of late, stating: "Lindelof's problem is Maguire. Maguire's problem is Lindelof. If you put Lindelof alongside Van Dijk, he'd make a great pair, but the problem is that he's alongside somebody who isn't the most mobile. They both drop back a little bit, and they've got to get up the pitch. More front foot, more aggressive."

Varane would compensate for Maguire's weaknesses by allowing United to climb a few yards higher when defending, with the reassurance that a pass in behind shouldn't become too problematic as a result of his presence.

The higher the defensive line, the fewer shots on goal United should face provided that such an approach is coupled with pressing high up the field.

Manchester City are facing just 6.8 shots per match in the Premier League this season, whereas United are allowing almost double on 11.2, which is the 10th-best in the division.

Liverpool won the title last year having faced an average of nine shots per match; Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have each showcased the perks of a proactive yet restrictive defence in recent years as the pair have chased perfection on the pitch.

The Red Devils are steadily improving under Solskjaer, but the next step of the team's evolution has to originate from the centre of defence, and while it remains to be seen whether Varane will actually descend on Manchester at the end of the campaign, the speculation alone indicates that United are attempting to tackle their primary weakness.