After it emerged earlier this week that Chelsea are looking to sign Xabi Alonso in January, Manchester United would be foolish not to lodge a rival bid for the Real Madrid midfielder.
The deep-lying playmaker is exactly the sort of signing that David Moyes needs to make when the transfer window reopens, due to his current dearth of defensive midfield talent at Old Trafford.
Michael Carrick is the only player currently capable of reliably protecting the Red Devils' back four, whilst also successfully pulling the strings in the middle of the park.
Alonso would compliment the England international well, and also allow the likes of Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini to push further on up the field, into an attacking midfield position, where they are both naturally more comfortable.
Moyes was heavily criticised for failing to add a creative, attacking midfielder to his ranks during the summer, but the truth is, the Manchester United boss has options aplenty in that department.
Alonso will be out of contract at the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season, and so will be free to speak to foreign clubs in January about a free transfer move next summer.
The Spain international turns 32 next month, but - injury permitting - still has three or four years at the top of the game, and will prove to be a bargain buy for any club that is lucky enough to secure the services of a player that cost Real Madrid £30million in 2009.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is reportedly keen to bring Alonso back to Anfield, though the 31-year-old is understood to favour a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, having established a strong relationship with his former manager in the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid are also confident of convincing the player to sign an extension, having now recovered from the back operation and broken foot that ruled him out of the Confederations Cup with Spain in the summer, and caused him to miss the first 10 weeks of the 2013/14 campaign.
"He is over his injuries, now we need to get him playing," said Carlo Ancelotti in a press-conference on Tuesday. "Xabi Alonso is very important for Real Madrid.
"Xabi is available (to play against Sevilla on Wednesday). He's training and I think that tomorrow he will be on our bench and I'll try to give him a few minutes."
Bar any setbacks with his recovery, Moyes must prioritise holding talks with Alonso in January. Allowing him to join Chelsea would not only strengthen their Premier League title challenge in the second half of the season, but also present a failed opportunity to recruit the missing piece of the Manchester United midfield jigsaw.
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