Manchester United have reportedly set their sights on Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo, as they look for a replacement for long-time servant Antonio Valencia.

According to a report from The Sun that have quoted Gazzetta dello Sport as their source, Manchester United have identified Juventus defender Joao Cancelo as a potential long-term replacement for club captain Antonio Valencia.

The Ecuadorian international could be set to bring an end to his ten-year association with Manchester United at the end of the season, with his contract on the verge of expiry. And there have been little signs that the Red Devils want to trigger the 12-month extension option in his deal.

Indeed, interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also dropped a strong hint recently that the 33-year-old’s time with Manchester United could be coming to an end soon. And as per the report from Gazzetta, the 20-time English champions have locked in on Juventus’ right-back Joao Cancelo as a candidate to replace Valencia on a long-term basis.

On Manchester United's radar (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

On Manchester United’s radar (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old came through the youth ranks at Benfica and has had spells at Valencia and Inter Milan, before he secured a move to the Italian champions this past summer. Since joining the Bianconeri, Cancelo has become an integral part of the team, playing an important hand in their title charge, despite missing a month’s action with an injury.

So far in the ongoing campaign, the 12-time capped Portuguese international has featured on 23 occasions across all competitions, chipping in with a solitary goal and five assists.

Manchester United did strengthen the full-back area in the last summer, signing Diogo Dalot from Porto, while they also have Ashley Young, who is currently the undisputed first-choice, as well as Matteo Darmian. While Young did sign a new one-year contract, he is in the twilight of his career, whereas Darmian could be on the move in the summer.

So, the interest in Cancelo makes total sense for Manchester United. A solid defender and a potent crosser off the ball, with plenty of experience at the top level, the 24-year-old is regarded as one of the best in his position in Europe and has the potential to be an excellent addition for the Red Devils.

Cancelo is contracted with Juventus till the summer of 2023 and considering that he moved to Turin less than a year ago, it is extremely unlikely that the Serie A champions would be willing to let him leave ahead of the next season. It could force Manchester United to look elsewhere in order to strengthen their right-back slot, with AC Milan’s Davide Calabria also a potential target.

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