Sancho is long-term target for United, but the club are reportedly unwilling to match Borussia Dortmund’s £110 million valuation of the winger.
Midfielder Donny van de Beek has been their only major signing this summer, arriving from Ajax in a £40 million move.
Meanwhile, United’s defensive frailties were exposed in their 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day, with Victor Lindelof, in particular, struggling to get up to speed with the pace of the game at Old Trafford.
Red Devils legend Ferdinand believes Upamecano could be the answer to their problems at the back and should be prioritised ahead of signing Sancho.
‘I’ve been banging the drum for a long time about buying a centre-half,’ Ferdinand told talkSPORT.
‘It’s not going to solve every problem but it’s one of the biggest problems.
‘There’s no dominant centre-half which makes the opposition think, ‘I’m going to have to do something today to get any change out of him’.
‘You need that if you’re going to win anything.
‘Jadon Sancho is a generational talent who is here to stay, so you can understand the interest, but for me they need a centre-back.’
When asked who he feels is the right fit for United’s defence, Ferdinand said: ‘Upamecano is one of the big names that has been pushed about.
‘Young, very good on the ball, athletic, strong, mobile, plays every game.
‘He’s one who you could see come in and play right now.
‘Upamecano’s the one that jumps out to me. When I watched the Champions League last year, he was one of the most impressive centre-halves.’