Manchester United could be forced back into the market next summer to sign another centre-back amid Raphael Varane’s injury record.

That’s the message from ex-United striker Andrew Cole as the Premier League side continue to make-do without the World Cup winner for at least the next few weeks. Varane, 30, was ruled out before the ongoing international break with his ninth setback since joining the club two years ago.

Varane remains the first choice for Erik ten Hag in defence - alongside Lisandro Martinez - but United did consider signing another centre-back during the recent transfer window. However, that was as a proposed replacement for Harry Maguire had he completed a move to West Ham.

United accepted an offer worth £30million for the defender. Despite that, Maguire opted to stay put which meant younger models such as Edmond Tapsoba and Jean-Clair Todibo were, for now, side-stepped.

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Manchester Evening News understands Tapsoba was drawing strong interest from Old Trafford this summer, while reports from renowned French publication L’Equipe namedropped Todibo as a potential alternative. But will United be pushed into a similar market to find a reliable successor for Varane?

During a wide-ranging interview with bookmakers Betfred, former United frontman Cole said: “Most probably and that wouldn’t surprise me. Over the last five years, Manchester United have spent over £150million on centre-backs and in that time they never brought in a centre-forward, until this summer.

He added: “You’re possibly talking about buying another centre-back, because unfortunately you don’t know what Varane’s going to be able to give due to his injury record. I’m as frustrated as anybody else when it comes to how Manchester United do things, because it’s as if they’re doing everything back to front. They have so, so much to do before they’re in a position to compete.”

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