Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes strong Dutch connections will help him secure a cut-price January deal for Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar, despite strong interest from Arsenal.
Vlaar contract with Villa runs out at the end of the season and so far talks over a new deal have failed to reach an agreement, although another round of negotiations are scheduled before the transfer window opens.
United and in truth Arsenal are both in desperate need of experienced defensive reinforcements, with Van Gaal ready to turn to a man he trusts in Vlaar despite the centre-back turning 30 in February.
Injury crisis has forced Van Gaal's hand
Speculation that United are interested in Vlaar is nothing new and comes as no surprise, primarily because the Netherlands defender excelled at the World Cup working alongside Van Gaal.
The Mirror believe United have taken their interest a step further in the last 48 hours, primarily because of a defensive injury crisis that shows no sign of letting up.
Lack of experience there for all to see
Van Gaal's mind has probably been made up over a move for Vlaar by yet another injury blow suffered in Sunday's Manchester derby defeat, with Marcos Rojo damaging his shoulder and now facing three weeks on the sidelines at the very least.
Rojo joins Jonny Evans and Phil Jones on the sidelines, three players who would definitely be in contention for a starting spot if anywhere near full fitness.
United's problems at centre-back have been so severe this season that unheralded youngsters Paddy McNair and Tom Thorpe have both featured for the first team, while pre-season plans to play a 3-5-2 have also been abandoned.
Arsenal's interest is genuine
Sealing a bargain deal for Vlaar would offer Van Gaal the chance to once again experiment with that formation, but only if he chooses the Theatre of Dreams over Arsenal.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is monitoring developments surrounding Vlaar's future very closely, with his failure to sign reliable cover at centre-back a contributory factor to a disappointing first three months of the campaign.
Last night's 3-3 draw with Anderlecht brought Arsenal's shortcomings to the fore once again, but Wenger doesn't have the same relationship with Vlaar that Van Gaal enjoys and therefore United have to be considered huge favourites to sign their top January transfer target.
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