Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will recall Chris Smalling into his squad next season if he cannot find a centre-back in the transfer market this summer.
The defender joined Roma on loan last summer following the £80m arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester and the Serie A giants had been keen on making the centre-back’s move a permanent one.
However, United had been demanding as much as £25m for the centre-back before the pandemic hit and Roma are only willing to pay roughly half of that. Solskjaer is keen to sign a fast centre-back to play alongside Harry Maguire next term, as that will enable him to play a higher line.
Smalling possesses the pace that Solskjaer craves but there have long been question marks over the defender’s ability in possession, hence why Victor Lindelof was favoured last summer.
United are targeting Bournemouth ace Nathan Ake but they face competition from Manchester City for his signature, while 23-year-old Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres is also a target for Barcelona.
Solskjaer has agreed a £140m budget with his board and over half of that is likely to be spent on Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish is another leading target but the acquisition of that pair will require Solskjaer to sell off some players to bolster his funds. Should a defender not arrive, then Smalling will be recalled to provide competition for Maguire and Lindelof.