Aymeric Laporte Athletic Bilbao James Rodriguez Real Madrid
Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte fights for possession with Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez during their La Liga gameReuters

Manchester United are being linked with every possible quality defender in Europe at the moment, and the latest to reportedly catch the eye of Louis Van Gaal is Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte.

The young Frenchman has an outstanding season for Bilbao last season, helping them to the top four and a place in the Champions League.

Laporte has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal in the recent past, with some reports even suggesting Arsene Wenger failed with a bid in the summer transfer window.

Athletic Bilbao have apparently made it clear that they will only let Laporte go if a club matches his £32 million buyout clause, something that has put off a lot of the 20-year-old's suitors.

Manchester United, though, armed with plenty more money to spend in the January transfer window are willing to spend that £32 million on Laporte, according to the Daily Express.

Van Gaal is desperate to strengthen his defence during the January transfer window by bringing in an assured centre-back. While Laporte is still pretty young, he has shown plenty of maturity in his position, and there are very few managers in Europe than Van Gaal to nurture young players.

Manchester United have also been linked with the likes of Ezequiel Garay and Mats Hummels, but Laporte's age and the fact that there is so much potential, might just sway Van Gaal into firming his interest and making that big bid in the January transfer window.

While Manchester United were quite busy during the summer transfer window, they are expected to be busy again when the window opens at the turn of the year, with the likes of Arturo Vidal, Kevin Strootman, Ilkay Gundogan and Sami Khedira all being heavily linked.

Van Gaal's priorities will be a defender and a strong central midfielder, and Laporte certainly fits the bill for the former position.