Manchester United’s pursuit of Portuguese defender Ruben Dias could reportedly prove futile, with Juventus leading the chase for the youngster.

According to a report from Portuguese publication Record, Manchester United’s attempt to sign Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias may not bear any fruit as Serie A champions Juventus are leading the chase for the 21-year-old.

Manchester United have had a forgetful 2018-19 campaign and are in need of reinforcements all over the pitch ahead of the next season. A key area that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must look to strengthen in the summer is the centre-back department, as the Red Devils have looked anything but secure at the back.

Apart from Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling, to some extent, none of the defenders have proven to be reliable enough. And with Eric Bailly set to miss the early parts of the season with an injury and Marcos Rojo likely to be offloaded, a new centre-half should be a top priority for Manchester United.

The 20-time English champions have been linked with a host of central defenders over the past year or so, with Tottenham star Toby Alderweireld and Napoli mainstay Kalidou Koulibaly the most recurring names. More recently, a €36 million move for AS Roma defender Kostas Manolas has also been mooted.

Now, Benfica starlet Ruben Dias also seems to have emerged as a potential candidate for Manchester United. The 21-year-old came through the academy of the Portuguese giants and broke into the senior side in 2017, post which he has become a regular fixture in the first-team.

Dias, in the 2018-19 campaign, has notched up 53 appearances across all competitions, chipping in with 4 goals and 3 assists as well, helping Benfica’s push for the Portuguese league title. Regarded as one of the most promising young centre-backs in Europe, the 21-year-old has also generated interested from clubs across Europe, with Juventus being the most prominent one.

Man in demand (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Man in demand (Photo by Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bianconeri, who were crowned Serie A champions once again this term, are looking to refresh an ageing backline ahead of the next season. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are not getting any younger, while Daniele Rugani hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations so far, leading to Juventus seeking Dias’ signing.

To that end, they have already held negotiations with Benfica over the possibility of signing the Portuguese starlet, with the talks believed to be in advanced stages. This will come as a big blow for Manchester United, who themselves have just opened a line of communication with the Portuguese outfit.

Dias is contracted with Benfica till the summer of 2023 and has a release clause worth £50 million, which needs to be met by the interested parties. It remains to be seen if Manchester United are able to get their hands on the 21-year-old in the summer or if they get beaten by Juventus to his signing.