Man United targets two defenders, one attacker

Manchester United are searching for two full-backs and an attacking midfielder – and they want them in at Old Trafford in this transfer window.

Sportsmail understands that United officials have told agents that they are on the lookout for players in each position before the end of the month.

The move is a clear indication that Jose Mourinho will be given extra funds to strengthen his injury-hit squad for the second half of a campaign which has seen rivals Manchester City surge 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

When asked, following Monday’s morale-boosting 2-0 win at Everton – injury-hit United’s first victory in four matches – if he would be backed in January, the Portuguese responded: ‘Can we improve now or do we wait until the summer? I cannot say.’

It would appear that those in the boardroom are attempting to ensure that the squad strengthening happens sooner, rather than later.

Word has been sent to a number of top representatives, informing them that United are on the lookout for a left back, right back and attacking midfielder.

Outcast Luke Shaw has performed well at left back, starting the last four games for the club and there is cautious optimism at Carrington that the 22–year-old, signed from Southampton for a then-staggering £31.5m in 2014, can make the position his own. However, Mourinho wants to strengthen both there and across his defence at right back.

At Everton, Victor Lindelof, a central defender, started in the position, with specialist right-back Matteo Darmian on the bench. Italy international Darmian, signed from Torino in 2015 for £12.6m, has struggled and 32-year-old Antonio Valencia, a wide midfielder, had made the right-back slot his own until a recent hamstring injury.

In three straight Premier League draws, United have lacked a creative presence and there is an acceptance that there is a need for a playmaker to come in.

Mourinho, who has already spent around £260m since he arrived at Old Trafford, declared that investment was ‘not enough’, following one of those stalemates, a 2-2 draw with Burnley. He pointed to leaders City, whom he said were buying full backs for the price of strikers.