Manchester United have been linked with signing a host of different players in January, but should seriously consider shelling out for Barcelona utility man Javier Mascherano.
The Argentina international is exactly the sort of no-nonsense midfielder that the reigning Premier League champions have been crying out for, and would add much needed grit and determination, to a side that is lacking any real traits of genuine title contenders this year.
David Moyes has been criticised for not bringing a creative, attacking midfielder to Old Trafford in the summer, but the truth is, the Red Devils boss has options aplenty in that area of the pitch.
Where his side is much more obviously deficient is in defensive midfield, with only Michael Carrick to reliably call upon, to play that deep-lying role and also protect the back four.
Mascherano would slot seamlessly alongside the England international, and allow the likes of Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini to push on further upfield, where they are naturally more comfortable.
Detractors of the South American schemer might point to his age as a potential issue for Manchester United, but at 29, the Barcelona star has plenty of years left at the top of the European game.
With experience of playing in the Premier League, during stints at West Ham and Liverpool, Mascherano would take little time to settle, if he were to return to England.
His impressive playing partnership alongside Xabi Alonso at Anfield provides another reason to believe that he would compliment Carrick well in front of Moyes's back line, given the midfield maestro's similarities to Real Madrid's deep-lying playmaker.
Mascherano's ability to operate as a makeshift centre-back mustn't be overlooked either, given the number of times he has featured in that role, during his three-and-a-bit seasons at Camp Nou.
His future in Spain has been the subject of speculation, with doubts in the summer over whether or not new manager Gerardo Martino would deem Mascherano surplus to requirements. With suggestions of a possible exit, the £18.5million man appeared open to the idea of leaving, should an offer be forthcoming.
"You never know," he told Spanish paper El Pais in August. "In football, you have to be prepared for anything. There were calls from somewhere else, but no offers.
"There are always doubts. You are at Barcelona and you have to fight for your place. [But] if Barca tell me they don't need me, I will be off within a minute."
Providing Red Devils fans can forget Mascherano's former Liverpool loyalties, there is no reason why they shouldn't be open to the idea of signing him, once the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year.
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