Manchester United close in on Serie A pair as Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen squad

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Manchester United are lining up a double swoop for Lazio pair Keita Balde Diao and Stefan de Vrij as part of what could be a major squad overhaul from Jose Mourinho.

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An unbeaten run of 17 games has seen the Red Devils overcome poor early-season form to move to within just two points of rivals Manchester City in fifth, but after a huge summer spending spree, the club still remain way behind league leaders Chelsea.

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The Portuguese knows that extra quality will be needed to bridge the gap, and is reportedly already considering summer targets that could do just that. According to Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia), Lazio duo Balde Diao and de Vrij are two prominent names on Mourinho’s radar as he aims to strengthen at both ends of the pitch.

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After a series of assured performances for club and country over the past year, Dutch international defender de Vrij is believed to be a long-standing target for Mourinho, who has concerns over Chris Smalling’s commitment to his United blueprint. With a summer departure on the cards for the England international, the Italian publication claims interest in de Vrij could be ramped up during the close season.

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Ex-Barcelona man Balde Diao, meanwhile, is seen as a potential replacement for Wayne Rooney should the veteran decide to seek a new challenge at the end of the campaign. The pacey attacker has just a year left to run on his current deal at the Stadio Olimpico and is stalling on a contract extension as he weighs up his options.

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Also wanted by Juventus, who allegedly harbour good relations with his representatives, and AC Milan, the Senegalese wide man would be available for a fee in the region of £30 million should Lazio decide to sell.

He has scored five goals so far this season for the fourth-placed Biancocelesti and is viewed as one of Europe’s most promising young forwards.

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