Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has confirmed that his captain Ron Vlaar will be out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.
While that is a blow for the Premier League strugglers, it also ruins any potential plans Manchester United had to sign the Dutchman. Louis van Gaal has been strongly linked with a move for his compatriot, but will now have to look for alternative targets to sure up his defence in the January transfer window.
Lambert confirmed to reporters that Vlaar will be out for "four to six week", meaning he will only return to full fitness after the current window has passed. Vlaar has struggled with other injuries this season, appearing in 12 of Villa's 20 Premier League games this season.
Regardless of the ongoing problems with his calf, Manchester United retained an interest as Van Gaal looked for short-term defensive cover. Injuries to Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo have left the Red Devils desperately short of options at times.
Not only that, but none of the above could claim to be playing at their very best at any point this season. Vlaar, an experienced Netherlands international who has a relationship with Van Gaal, would have added much-needed quality and come cheaply.
The 29-year-old is into the last six months of his contract at Villa Park and is free to negotiate a pre-contract with other clubs in what would be a free transfer in the summer. However, Lambert was tipped to let Vlaar leave for as little as £4 million instead of losing him for nothing in June.
But Vlaar is now likely to remain with the Villains until at least the end of the season, giving Lambert the chance to convince him to stay. Manchester United would be unlikely to sign Vlaar beyond the current window as Old Trafford bosses have made it clear they will go for established, world-class stars.
The likes of Mats Hummels and Sergio Ramos will be the order of the day with Manchester United ready to spend something similar to the £150 million blown last summer.
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