Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate for a centre-back and United are ready to spend £75m on Leicester’s Harry Maguire.
The reported fee has raised eyebrows after Juventus snapped up De Ligt from Ajax for £67.5m earlier today.
United were linked with the Dutchman earlier in the window but reports suggested he had his heart set on a switch to Barcelona.
And according to Evening Standard reporter James Robson, Barca’s interest forced United to pull out of the race.
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“United were convinced De Ligt was on his way to Barcelona and dropped their pursuit,” he tweeted.
De Ligt enjoyed a stunning campaign last term, captaining Ajax to the Eredivsie title and the Champions League semi-finals.
And United could have pulled off a coup by hijacking Juve’s deal for the 19-year-old.
“United were convinced De Ligt was on his way to Barcelona and dropped their pursuit.”
Evening Standard reporter James Robson
Solskjaer will instead continue his pursuit of Maguire.
Reports earlier this week suggested a deal had been agreed and the England international was set for a medical.
But Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers made it clear those rumours were wide of the mark.
And he insists the Foxes will drag their heels in order to keep Maguire.
“I’ll repeat myself,” he said.
“Harry doesn’t need to be sold.
“We won’t have to sell to get money and that’s the beauty of this club.
“It’s in a great position financially.”