Manchester United will live to regret signing Nigel de Jong in the summer, after it emerged that Juventus are lining up the Dutch midfielder to replace Paul Pogba in Turin.
According to The Express, the reigning Serie 'A' champions are already on the lookout for the France international's successor, and have identified the former Manchester City man as the ideal candidate to fill the inevitable void that will be left by the soon-to-be departing star.
De Jong has been heavily linked with a move away from the San Siro at the end of the season, with a return to the Premier League and reunion with old national team boss Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford frequently touted.
The Dutch coach is thought to be on the lookout for another defensive midfielder, and is keen to add the 30-year-old to his Red Devils ranks when the transfer window reopens on July 1.
However, Van Gaal could ultimately rue a controversial approach for De Jong if it negatively affects Manchester United's chances of re-signing Pogba in the future.
Article continues below
The fact that the player spent three years playing for the club's arch rivals at the Etihad Stadium is reason enough for fans to be apprehensive about De Jong's acquisition.
But, once they hear he's also on Massimo Allegri's summer shortlist they'll be hoping that common sense prevails and Van Gaal allows Juventus to proceed with negotiations.
If Juve are unsuccessful in their pursuit of De Jong they'll be even more reluctant to let Pogba leave, and with Manchester United also keen on bringing the 21-year-old back to the Theatre of Dreams they'd be much better off biding their time.
It's a waiting game
Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has already confirmed the in-demand star is likely to leave Italy in the next 18 months, with a host of top European clubs ready to fight for his signature.
The presence of illustrious sides like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all monitoring the situation closely, there's no guarantee that Manchester United will be successful in their ambitious bid to land a player that is now widely regarded as one of the world's best in his position.
However, despite the uncertainty that remains regarding Pogba, Van Gaal would be much better off ending his interest in De Jong and focus on trying to convince the Frenchman that his long-term future would be best served under his tutelage at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson must look back on the day Pogba left Manchester United on a Bosman free transfer as one of the biggest mistakes of his managerial career, after continuing to overlook the precocious young talent when he was knocking on the first-team door.
In Italy, Pogba has flourished after establishing himself as one of the most complete modern day playmakers, and now the Red Devils will be required to spend huge amounts of money to get him back.
With a speculative fee of around €100 million being touted by various media outlets, Manchester United's moneymen will no doubt begrudge such a huge outlay, but it would still represent better business then a cut-price deal for De Jong, who will only provide a short-term solution in the middle of the park.
Manchester United fans: Who do you think your club has a better chance of signing - Paul Pogba or Nigel De Jong? How should Louis van Gaal proceed in the summer transfer market? Share your thoughts below...