Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is facing a major dilemma at the heart of his defence after an increasingly difficult pre-season tour of north America.
Chief amongst the Dutchman's problems is his centre-back pairing for the upcoming Premier League campaign, with Phil Jones in danger of losing his first team spot.
The English international endured a night to forget in the 2-0 pre-season defeat against Paris Saint-Germain this week and according to the Mirror, Van Gaal has major doubts about him and could give Chris Smalling the nod for the season opener against Tottenham.
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Indeed Van Gaal has also been forced to deploy midfielder Daley Blind at the back after Marcos Rojo was stopped from joining up on the tour because of issues with his passport.
It looks highly unlikely that the Red Devils will be able to secure a new centre-back in time for the start of the new season, with Sergio Ramos set to stay put at Real Madrid.
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The Spanish international performed a dramatic u-turn and will sign a contract at the Bernabeu worth €8 million-per-season shortly. That leaves Manchester United on the lookout for a new target, with Everton's John Stones suggested as the man for the job.
Van Gaal's defensive woes are just one of his major problems, with question marks still hanging over both David de Gea and Angel di Maria.
De Gea wants to join Real Madrid and only has one year left to run on his contract having refused an extension to stay at Old Trafford. Van Gaal has admitted that De Gea is 'distracted' amidst the speculation, while he also revealed he still doesn't know the whereabouts of Di Maria, who is close to joining Paris Saint-Germain after failing to turn up for pre-season.
The problems are really mounting up for Van Gaal, which is to be expected to an extent after another season overhauling his squad. There's a real chance he could start the season without a player signed by Sir Alex Ferguson if he manages to get a few deals done, and although he needs new players that comes with associated risks.
As it stands his squad is a little unbalanced - he lacks options in attack and at centre-back but is overloaded with central midfielders.
There is still plenty of work to do and with Van Gaal spending more than £200 million over two seasons all the pressure is now on the Dutchman to get it right.
If Manchester United don't get top four this season should Van Gaal be sacked?
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