Manchester United targeted Lascelles before Mourinho sacking - sources

Jamaal Lascelles, the Newcastle United centre-half, was on a list of potential January defensive targets considered by Jose Mourinho prior to his dismissal as Manchester United manager in December, sources have told ESPN FC.

Mourinho was sacked by United with the team lying in sixth position, 11 points adrift of the top four, after a troubled start to the season which had begun with the manager complaining about the club's failure to sufficiently bolster the squad's defensive options.

Despite interest in Leicester's Harry Maguire, Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld, Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin, Colombia international Yerry Mina and Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, the United hierarchy chose not to answer Mourinho's demands for an experienced centre-half due to the manager having already signed Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof during his first two years in charge.

But with United struggling defensively in the opening months of the campaign, sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho was expecting to recruit a new centre-half during the January transfer window.

Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar was a leading target, with Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly regarded as the favoured option, but one unlikely to be available until the summer.

Newcastle's Lascelles was a surprise name on the list, however, with the 25-year-old's performances for Rafael Benitez's team earning the attention of United's scouts.

Lascelles has since signed a new long-term contract at St James' Park, tying him to Newcastle until 2024, while Mourinho has been replaced by caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Despite United's resurgence since Solskjaer took charge, with the Norwegian guiding the team to 10 wins out of 11 games prior to Tuesday's Champions League defeat against Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford, sources have told ESPN FC that a commanding centre-half remains a key target for the club at the end of the season.