Manchester United have identified Nikola Milenkovic as an alternative for primary target Harry Maguire and have launched a bid to sign the Serie A star.

Manchester United are putting contingency plans in place should their pursuit of Leicester City star Harry Maguire fail to yield the desired result. According to various reports in Italy, as carried by the Mirror, the 20-time English champions have launched a £45 million bid for Fiorentina star Nikola Milenkovic, who they have identified as a suitable alternative for Maguire.

Manchester United’s defensive issues were laid bare for everyone to see this past season. The Red Devils finished with their worst-ever defensive record in Premier League history, letting in as many as 54 goals, highlighting their problems at the heart of the backline.

No centre-back apart from Victor Lindelof was able to perform at a consistent level which has led to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer making a new defensive signing a top priority in the ongoing transfer window. A number of defenders have been linked with a move to Manchester United, but it is Harry Maguire whose name has been the most prominent.

The Leicester City defender has established himself as one of the finest in his positions in the Premier League over the past two years. And having been linked with him last summer as well, Manchester United are trying to sign the England international this time out as well. To that end, the Red Devils have reportedly submitted a £70 million offer for Maguire.

Set to don the red of Manchester United soon? (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Set to don the red of Manchester United soon? (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

However, that bid falls below Leicester City’s valuation of Maguire. With the Foxes demanding a world-record fee for their defender, Manchester United are keeping their options open and have identified Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic as a potential alternative for their primary target Maguire.

Milenkovic, 21, has been with Fiorentina for the last two years, having arrived from Serbian outfit Partizan Belgrade and has become one of Serie A’s most dependable young defenders. Till date, he has featured 55 times for the Viola bagging three goals, while also establishing himself as a mainstay for the Serbian national team, since his debut in June last year.

Manchester United had been interested in signing Milenkovic in the January transfer window and were reported to have made a £36 million bid for the Serb, which was knocked back by Fiorentina. However, they are hoping that a new offer of £45 million will be able to convince the Serie A outfit to part with their prized youngster.

While Maguire would be the ideal addition to this Manchester United side, the fact that they are not putting all their eggs in just one basket is a smart thing. And Milenkovic, despite his young age, has shown enough ability in his two years at Fiorentina to become a solid signing for the Red Devils. It remains to be seen if they are successful in the pursuit of the Serbian though.