Manchester United’s defensive woes have been well documented and the lack of a leader and figurehead at the back could easily be the difference between qualifying for Champions League and playing in the Europa League.
The club continues to be linked with major defenders across Europe and South America, with expensive potential acquisitions like Mats Hummels, Diego Godin, Miranda, Adil Rami, Gerard Pique.
What also must be considered is that these players lack Premier League experience and will take time to settle down before making effective contributions.
With this in mind, it would be wise for Manchester United to target defenders who ply their trade in the Premier League, and have sufficient experience in it over the past few seasons.
Here are some options based in England who could bring that much needed authority and organisation to Louis van Gaal's backline...
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1. Ryan Shawcross
A United youth academy product, he was let go in 2007 as Sir Alex Ferguson already had Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, who were in their prime, and a young Jonny Evans and Gerard Pique in reserve.
That was a questionable decision at best considering the fact that Pique himself was allowed to leave United, returning to Barcelona, and Jonny Evans is hardly the most reliable defender.
Shawcross has developed into a fine young defender with both a physical presence in the box and the composure to handle the pressure of Premier League football. He has been the leader of the Stoke defence known for its toughness and physicality - something lacking at Old Trafford.
A move to United could also help Shawcross gain a national call-up which has been eluding him for quite a while now despite repeated good performances. He could be the most ideal buy and, at only 27-years-old, he could also be the driving force of the united defence for the next five or six seasons.
Potential cost: £12m
2. Ashley Williams
A player who developed his game in the lower echelons of English football, Ashley Williams is a striker’s nightmare. He is a big, strong and agile defender who is also the leader of the Swansea team.
He was a target for Arsenal a few seasons ago, but the transfer did not materialise. His attributes would suit LvG’S 3-5-2 formation. He possesses the legs to make the transformation from defence to offence and is extremely good at man marking at set plays.
Potential cost: £15m
3. Ron Vlaar
A member of Van Gaal’s Netherlands squad which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil, Vlaar would be an ideal fit in the 3-5-2 formation as he is familiar with his former manager's methods.
He has Premier League experience and is a capable leader too. He has proved to be reliable for Aston Villa and is available on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Potential cost: Free (in the summer)
4. Curtis Davies
Hull City’s reigning player of the year, Curtis Davies was one of the prime reasons for the team’s successful season, in which they reached the FA Cup final.
A reliable defender who has also developed his game by playing regular Premier League and Championship football, Davies was the captain of West Brom very early in his career and and later impressed at Aston Villa, despite his injury problems.
Potential cost: £5m
5. Phil Jagielka
Phil Jagielka is these days an elder statesman of English football. The Everton captain has been capped several times by England and has European experience by the virtue of regularly featuring in the Europa League for his team.
He is a reliable defender and has a knack for scoring goals for his side from set pieces. At 32, he maybe a tad older but he could bring the experience and composure which the current United defence lacks.
Potential cost: £5m
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