Manchester United are keen to re-sign Gerard Pique from Barcelona either in January or next summer. The Spanish central defender has been identified by Louis van Gaal as a potential target following a disappointing start to the 2014/15 campaign.
This is according to Spanish newspaper AS, who claim that United will put everything in place to re-sign the commanding centre-back when the transfer window re-opens in January. Failing that, they will move for the 27-year-old next summer.
Pique spent four years at United
Pique was initially snapped up by the Red Devils in 2004. He spent a total of four years at Old Trafford - although during that time he was sent on a season-long loan to Real Zaragoza - before re-joining his boyhood club in 2008.
The centre-back made a total of 23 appearances for Manchester United, but failed to establish himself as a first-team regular because of the solid defensive partnership comprised of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Pique has enjoyed immense success at Barcelona
Since returning to Barcelona, he has won just about every major trophy up for grabs, including four La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and two Champions League winners’ medals - both won following final victories over Manchester United.
He also played an instrumental role in Spain’s success at the 2010 World Cup finals and the 2012 European Championships.
Luis Enrique has doubts
But despite his immense success at the Camp Nou, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique appears to have doubts over the player, and left him on the bench during the 5-0 win over Levante on Sunday night.
Pique has been accused of spending too much time concentrating on activities outside of football, rather than working hard to improve himself as a footballer. His loss of concentration and focus has been criticised by many in Spain over the past couple of years.
And if Enrique decides to stick with Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu as his preferred centre-back duo, the chance to return to Manchester United as the Red Devils’ first-choice central defender may appeal to Pique.
Could Pique solve United's defensive problems?
It’s no secret, however, that the defender is a huge Barcelona supporter and a proud Catalan. Choosing to leave the Camp Nou would be anything but a straight-forward decision for Pique, who earns a reported £110,000-a-week.
Furthermore, Enrique is unlikely to sanction the player’s sale unless a replacement is secured first.
Manchester United, who conceded five goals against newly-promoted Leicester City on Sunday, failed to sign a top-class centre-back in the summer - meaning they have yet to replace either Vidic or Ferdinand. They’re currently paying the price for this oversight in the transfer market.
Pique, who speaks perfect English and knows Old Trafford, could be the perfect defensive signing for Van Gaal and the Red Devils.
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