Gerard Pique could return to Manchester United

This has become a familiar sight at Barcelona this season (©GettyImages)

Gerard Pique could be in for a return to Old Trafford as Louis van Gaal looks to strengthen his back line in the January transfer window.

Having come through the Catalan clubs notorious academy Pique made the switch to Manchester United in 2004. He made just 12 Premier League appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson before returning to the Spanish club in 2008 for £5 million.

However, according to the Express, new Dutch manager van Gaal see’s the 27-year-old as the perfect signing to patch up United’s leaky defence.

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National selection under threat

Since returning to his home nation Pique has made 269 appearances for Barcelona, winning four La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey's and two Champions League crowns.

But since new boss Luis Enrique took charge the Spaniard, who has featured 61 times for his country, has lost his place in the starting line-up to the new centre back partnership of Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu.

The Nou Camp side have made a stellar start to the season too, taking maximum points from their four games without conceding a goal, and with Pique resigned to a spot on the bench his place in the national side could come under threat.

Having signed a new contract at Barcelona in May, tying him to the club until 2019, the powerhouse central defender will go for a hefty fee but the red side of Manchester have already shown they are not afraid to spend big to bring in high profile players.

Having won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros a move back to Manchester would see Pique playing consistent first team football and cement his spot in back in Vicente del Bosque's side.

Poor start for United

Having seen Rio Ferdinand and Nemandja Vidic walk out the exit door at Old Trafford over the summer van Gaal, surprisingly, decided against signing a replacement central defender.

He did bring in Luke Shaw, from Southampton, and Marcos Rojo, from Sporting Lisbon, but both players seem more comfortable at left back.

The decision not to replace two of the best central defenders over the past decade has come back to bite the Red Devil as they have leaked eight goals in five league games.

United looked to be cruising to a victory at Leicester City on Saturday, taking a 3-1 lead with half an hour left of the game.

However a crazy 20-minute period where they conceded four goals saw United leave the King Power stadium empty handed as the game ended 5-3.

Van Gaal put his trust in defenders Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and youngster Tyler Blackett at the beginning of the season but injuries to Evans and Jones and a suspension for Blackett see’s United looking thin on the ground for central defensive options.

Rojo is capable of playing in the centre but it seems van Gaal is finally willing to address the glaringly obvious shortcomings of United’s central defence.

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