According to reports in the Daily Star, Manchester United are hoping to shore up their back four by taking Gerard Pique back in a £20million transfer.
Louis van Gaal was handed a handsome budget to spend on his squad when he succeeded the sacked David Moyes in the summer, but despite landing Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw to bolster his defence, the majority of his funds went on attacking players. Angel di Maria, for example, cost a British record £59million, whilst Radamel Falcao arrived from Monaco in an expensive loan.
As the Reds struggle to keep pace with the pacesetters in the Premier League title race – their 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Monday night means they are already 10 points behind leaders Chelsea – the Dutch coach has been told he has more money to spend when the window reopens. And with a central defender his priority, the Daily Star claim Pique tops his wanted list.
The Spain international, of course, is well known in the corridors of Old Trafford, having joined United from Barcelona as a 17-year-old back in 2004. However, he struggled to force his way into Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans, making just 12 league appearances, and a year after impressing during a loan spell at Real Zaragoza, he returned to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2008 for £5million.
Pique has gone on to establish himself as one of the best defenders in world football, and has a vast array of silverware to show for his time in Catalonia. As well as winning four La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey honours, the 27-year-old played the full 90 minutes in both of their UEFA Champions League successes against his former club in Rome (2009) and at Wembley (2011).
However, whilst Barca are yet to concede a league goal this season, Pique has not been an ever-present having played in five of their eight fixtures thus far. Luis Enrique, who replaced Gerardo Martino in the summer, has preferred both Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano ahead of him, despite the latter being largely recognised as a midfielder. This has cast doubts over the future of the former United youngster, and could raise van Gaal’s optimism ahead of the January window.
The Daily Star claim the 20-times champions of England would be prepared to pay £20million for Pique, yet the 6ft 4in centre-half remains under contract in Catalonia until the summer of 2019, and speaking about his future recently, he said: “You never know what the future holds, but right now, I love this city, I love the people in the club, and I love the institution. I don’t see myself leaving.”
Further to this, it would be a surprise if Pique, at this early stage of the season, had grown so frustrated that he would seriously consider leaving Barca in mid-season, particularly whilst they have been in such good form domestically and are likely to be involved in the Champions League knockout stages. It would be equally surprising if Enrique would also cause himself a problem by letting one of his most experienced, and indeed celebrated, players leave during the campaign.
Is Pique a realistic target for United, or would it make more sense for them to look elsewhere? Let us know what you think by joining in with the discussion below.