Fulham are keen on signing Nice defender Maxime Le Marchand, according to reports from France.

The 28 year-old centre back, who can also operate on the left side of the back four and as a defensive midfielder, is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Riviera and sources close to Le Marchand have told his local newspaper that the player believes ‘the time is right to try a new challenge’. Fulham, who are desperately seeking reinforcements at both left back and centre back ahead of their return to the Premier League, will need to move quickly as Le Marchand has admirers both in France and abroad.

Leading sports daily L’Equipe reported last week that Fiorentina were eager to take the powerful defender to Italy and domestic press reports suggest that Nantes are also interested. It is believed that Nice value the centre half, who made 41 appearances last season, at between £1.75m and £2.5m.

Le Marchand, who started his career with his hometown club Saint Malo before coming through the prestigious Rennes youth academy, was converted from a left winger into a defender and would suit Slavisa Jokanovic’s desire for defenders who are comfortable on the ball. He has amassed more than 200 league appearances in French football and has played in both the Champions’ League and the Europa League.