Gossip: Man Utd 'target entire new back four', Liverpool 'want Buffon', West Ham 'choose Benitez'

Key back line men: Vrsaljko, Buffon and Alderweireld

Manchester United may not have particularly dazzled us with their attacking flair this season, but their defence has been pretty decent. The 28 league goals they conceded is just one more than Manchester City and a lot fewer than everyone else. Yet this reportedly hasn’t stopped Jose Mourinho trying to sign an entire new back four.

According to various stories about United’s transfer plans, the only man who remains safe in Mourinho’s backline is the goalkeeper David de Gea. Everyone else will be replaced.

First, the right-back. The Mail says the Red Devils are considering a £30m bid for Atletico Madrid’s 26-year-old Croatian Sime Vrsaljko – first they just have to double-check that Mourinho is comfortable with having to pronounce his name correctly in press conferences.

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At left-back, Italian outlet La Stampa claims United will – “in the next few days” – seal a £43.7m deal for Juventus star Alex Sandro, who they have been battling with Chelsea to sign for the past year.

Toby Alderweireld could be on his way too…

And last but not least, the centre-backs. The Mirror says Mourinho is “confident” of landing Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld for £40m, while the Sun claims he is also targeting Italian colossus Leonardo Bonucci.

The 31-year-old has had a bit of a dodgy year with Milan (everyone at Milan had a bit of a dodgy year, to be fair) but United are apparently willing to reimburse the Rossoneri the £36m they paid Juve for the defender last summer. Bayern Munich are also keen.

Whatever happens it looks like being bad news for Chris Smalling, who Mourinho consistently picked in recent weeks to “boost his World Cup hopes” – and he didn’t even get in the squad! So Jose won’t be doing that again.

Reds turn to Buffon to solve keeper problem

Speaking of Italian colossuses (colossi?), Liverpool are allegedly “pondering” a move for Juve’s legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The 40-year-old Italian was expected to retire at the end of this season, but the Mirror suggests the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Simon Mignolet could be too tempting to turn down.

Or maybe Gigi just fancies a move to the Premier League to renew acquaintance with his old mate Michael “rubbish heart” Oliver.

Arsenal are looking to bolstering their backline too. The Mail says they have made Borussia Dortmund’s £17.5m-rated Sokratis Papastathopoulos their top defensive target because their first choice, Caglar Soyuncu of Freiburg, has been deemed too expensive at £35m.

At the other end of the scale is this summer’s finest taxi-stealing bargain Jonny Evans, who the Mirror says the Gunners will try (again) to sign for a cut-price £3m following West Brom’s relegation.

Meanwhile, West Ham’s search for a manager to replace David Moyes has led them to Rafa Benitez. The Mirror says the Newcastle boss is “top of a four-man shortlist” to replace the Scot, followed by Shakhtar Donetsk coach Paulo Fonseca, former Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini and the unemployed Marco Silva, who is also wanted by Everton. Let’s hope they don’t all say no, eh?

Elsewhere, Wolves are battling Monaco to sign AC Milan’s £30m-rated Portuguese (obviously) striker Andre Silva (Sky Italia), Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney – a target for Atletico Madrid – says he could stay with the Bhoys for the rest of his career (Herald) and Stoke are set to take a “big financial hit” on defender Kevin Wimmer, who is wanted by Hannover 96 (Mail). The Potters paid Tottenham £18m for the Austrian last summer but will now accept offers closer to £180.

@darlingkevin