Manchester United have added Christopher Nkunku to their list of summer targets after interim manager Ralf Rangnick urged the club to step up their interest in the RB Leipzig midfielder, sources told ESPN.
United, who are aiming to hire a permanent successor to former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the end of the season, have prioritised the midfield department for strengthening due to the expectation that Paul Pogba will leave Old Trafford as a free agent when his contract expires at the end of June.
Nkunku, 24, has scored 19 goals and registered 13 assists in 31 appearances at Leipzig this season and is regarded by many as one of the best emerging players in the Bundesliga.
His performances in Germany since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 -- when he signed for Leipzig while Rangnick was the club's director of football -- have attracted the attention of Europe's leading clubs including Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal.
But sources have said that United's interest has only emerged since Rangnick arrived at Old Trafford in December and reviewed the club's list of potential signings.
Sources have told ESPN that Nkunku, who has yet to make his senior debut for France after representing Les Bleus at under-age level, was not previously being considered by United's recruitment team as a possible signing, despite his reputation within Germany and across Europe.
However, United's scouts have been told to increase their focus on Nkunku, who can operate as an attacking midfielder and also as a wide player down both flanks.
With Nkunku under contract at Leipzig until June 2024, the club's global head of football, Oliver Mintzlaff, said at the weekend that every effort will be made to keep him at the Red Bull Arena this summer.
"He [Nkunku] will also play with us next season because of course he is a very important player," Mintzlaff told Sky Deutschland. "In football nothing is ever certain, but that's our plan.
"We don't have many players who can leave us in the summer. We want to strengthen the team rather than weaken it."