Manchester United should seriously consider a bid for Morgan Schneiderlin, the Southampton star that has already attracted transfer interest from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur this summer.
The 24-year-old midfielder is exactly the type of player that the Red Devils need, as he would strengthen an area of obvious fragility ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
Louis van Gaal has already moved to bring in Spanish star Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, and England international Luke Shaw, but he needs a more defensive minded player to sit in and help protect his new-look Old Trafford back line.
The recent injury to Michael Carrick - which will rule the 32-year-old out of action for up to 12 weeks - exposes Manchester United's main weakness even further, but Shaw's former Saints team-mate Schneiderlin would certainly fill the void.
Darren Fletcher and Marouane Fellaini are the only other existing first-team stars capable of playing the deep-lying role this season, assuming that Phil Jones will be utilised in his preferred central defensive position moving forward.
The departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand earlier this summer has resulted in a common perception that centre-back is the key area where reinforcements are needed.
However, the truth is that Manchester United are better stocked in that department than in holding midfield.
Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and the aforementioned Jones are likely to be Van Gaal's first-choice back three trio this season, while Thomas Vermaelen's anticipated arrival from Arsenal will provide an additional option.
Van Gaal targets
The former Holland head coach should be prioritising the acquisition of a new midfield general, and there are few better options available in the market than Schneiderlin at the moment.
The France international has been heavily linked with a move away from St Mary's, and is expected to join the mass exodus of players that have already left the south coast club this summer.
Despite Southampton signalling their determination to keep hold of the player by slapping a price tag greater than the £27 million that Manchester United paid to sign Shaw this window, the chances are that Schneiderlin will be turning out for a different team in the Premier League this season.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a long-term admirer of the former Strasbourg star, and almost signed him as an 18-year-old when he first joined Southampton in 2008.
A move to the Emirates Stadium has been mooted again this summer, but if Arsenal can reach agreement with World Cup winner Sami Khedira then expect them to sign the Real Madrid man instead of the tough-tackling Frenchman.
Tottenham have also been credited with an interest in bringing Schneiderlin to White Hart Lane, but that link stems from the player's positive relationship with former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who quit Saints to take over at Spurs at the end of last season.
It's unlikely that chairman Daniel Levy would be willing to sanction a bid that meets Southampton's valuation, but the extravagant fee should not deter Manchester United from making a move of their own.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has made no secret of the club's astronomical transfer war-chest that is supposedly available to Van Gaal to bring in new signings this summer, and Schneiderlin should be right at the top of the Dutchman's wish list.
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