Manchester United are determined not to get caught short if top target Mats Hummels snubs the chance to join Louis van Gaal's Old Trafford revolution, which means they've put together a back-up plan to bid for Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi in January.
Otamendi has emerged as a viable option for United thanks to a string of commanding performances in La Liga this season, an ever-present figure for Valencia who could surprisingly be available in January for much less than his whopping £40 million release clause.
That's because Valencia expect to sign Marseille centre-back Doria when the transfer window opens, paving the way for United to sign a close friend of Angel di Maria and finally bring some international quality to their backline.
Hummels remains number one priority
United have decided that they'll only shell out for new players in 2015 if they will significantly improve the squad, with an established centre half and a dynamic midfielder the players Van Gaal is most desperate to sign.
Hummels certainly fits the bill as the former, but United are growing increasingly concerned that a bidding war between Europe's top clubs could mean the Borussia Dortmund captain ends up going elsewhere.
Otamendi would add to Argentine contingent
The Express believe that United will launch a late January move for Otamendi if early attempts to land Hummels come up short, which is hardly surprise given an injury criss in defence that has shown no sign of letting up all season long.
Otamendi has been a player on United's radar for some considerable time, dating back to a spell with Porto that established him as a proven performer on the European stage.
Ideally United would like to spend no more than £30 million in January and save the bulk of their transfer budget for an assault on the market next summer, but if a classy operator like Otamendi becomes available don't be surprised if the Red Devils swoop for their third Argentine international in just six months.