Manchester United will have to break their transfer record for a defender twice this summer to land Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top targets.
The Norwegian wants to transform his defence with the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, at a cost of around £130m.
And United’s success in luring the pair to Old Trafford will be a test of Ed Woodward’s determination to back Solskjaer’s summer overhaul.
Both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp managed to convince their boards at Manchester City and Liverpool respectively to pay record fees for defensive reinforcements, which have paved the way to the success of both clubs over the past two seasons.
Now Solskjaer wants Woodward to take the same leap of faith with two players he believes will be pivotal to his rebuild.
City spent around £100m on Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy two summers ago, while Virgil van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history when Liverpool signed him from Southampton for £75m in January last year.
Walker has been fundamental to City’s back-to-back Premier League triumphs – and five domestic trophies during his time at the Etihad.
And Van Dijk has been the bedrock of Liverpool’s Champions League-winning side – named PFA Player of the Year and installed as favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.
Woodward is ready to invest heavily in United’s rear-guard – particularly after seeing Van Dijk’s impact on Klopp’s team.