Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas came close to signing for Manchester United, reveals former Tynecastle star Steven Pressley.

The Lithuanian international first moved to Edinburgh in 2006, and recently broke the club's record for appearances made by a foreign player, having established himself as a Hearts fans' favourite.

But, it could have been a very different story for the 28-year-old defender, had Manchester United followed up their initial interest in bringing him to Old Trafford.

"Prior to him going to Hearts, Manchester United watched him on seven or eight occasions and they were very close to signing him," explained Pressley - himself a former Tynecastle captain - in an interview with sport.stv.

"I think that shows the level of player he can be. On his day I think there's no better centre back in Scotland than Marius."

His impressive performances in the SPL over the past six years will have been duly noted by Sir Alex Ferguson, after the Red Devils decided not to make an official offer for the former FBK Kaunas stopper.

"When he's fully focused and determined he is a terrific player," added Pressley, who, like Zaliukas, lifted the Scottish Cup as a Hearts player.

"He's proved over the course of his time at Hearts that he's been an excellent player and a very good captain."

With a number of injuries in central defence at the moment - most notably to captain Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling - United are currently short on numbers, with Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand the first-choice pairing.

A January move for Zaliukas would seem unlikely, but the fact that he's approaching the end of his contract, means he could be available for a knockdown price when the transfer window reopens next year.

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