So far this season, new manager Louis van Gaal has used a plethora of partnerships at the back, with youngsters Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair handed debuts.
To keep their hopes of hitting the top-four on track, the Red Devils will need to work their magic in January and bring in at least one proven centre-half.
At present, one of their best defenders is Phil Jones, but the Englishman is never far away from injury or an erratic decision.
So it is time for Van Gaal to get that cheque book out once more. Here are three options he could choose from:
Mats Hummels has been on United’s radar for some time, but Van Gaal was rebuffed when he tried to capture the Borussia Dortmund defender in the summer. Since then, however, Dortmund have had a shocking start to the season, and should this poor form continue through the bitter winter months, the German side may be more susceptible to Van Gaal’s charms. Commanding a reported £47m price tag, he won’t come cheap, but the Dortmund captain will be a steadfast presence in a revolving door back-line.
Man Utd and their fans will need no reminding of the perils the January transfer window possesses. Limited targets, inflated asking prices and last-minute deals are all par for course, meaning the defenders on United’s more long-term list may have to wait till next summer. Ryan Shawcross hasn’t had the career elevation many expected, but he has been a rock in Stoke’s impressive defence, a commanding centre-half, who has plenty of Premier League experience and would be a finer English presence than Chris Smalling.
After his wonderful performances with Holland in the World Cup, Aston Villa must have been wary of the circling vultures eyeing up their captain. Whether Ron Vlaar can cut it at a more prestigious club remains to be seen, but concrete Vlaar’s no-nonsense approach and good leadership skills would ease United’s communication problems and provide a good foil to Marcos Rojo, once the Argentine recovers from his shoulder injury.
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