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Man Utd to plunge desperately into defence market in January

Despite Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal seemingly starting life at Old Trafford in difficult fashion, he somehow finds his Red Devils up in fourth place after the first seven games of the Premier League season. They are odds-on at 8/15 to finish in the top four and 14/1 to be champions.

However, the club have conceded a whopping 10 goals in that time, more than the likes of Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Swansea City. It is no coincidence that Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra’s exits from United have left a massive void of experience at the back.

Van Gaal, therefore, may have to dip back in the market for an assured centre half – not versatile signings such as Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind – with Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross and Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa strong targets.

The Dutchman has been forced to look for defensive talent closer to home, after missing out on the likes of Mats Hummels, Mehdi Benatia and Stefan de Vrij last transfer window, but can now hope to find cheaper options.

In Potters captain Shawcross, Van Gaal could be getting a big brute of a player who knows Man Utd inside out, having spent six years at the club as a youth, making two senior appearances.

The 27-year-old has only missed six Premier League games in the last five seasons (including this one), meaning he can be relied upon to stay fit, unlike current Red Devils Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

It is reported that Shawross even has a buy-back clause inserted into his contract, when former boss Sir Alex Ferguson sold him to Stoke in 2008, so would represent a good value transfer.

Villa skipper Vlaar, meanwhile, would also bring a wealth of experience, having played a big part in guiding the Netherlands to third place in the recent World Cup finals.

With the 29-year-old’s contract up next summer, the Villans will want to cash in. Reports suggest that the West Midlands club could command a fee of up to £12m, but would likely be able to be snapped up for around half of that amount.

Man Utd’s next Premier League fixture is away to West Brom on Monday October 19th, where they are odds-on 8/11 chances to win their third game on the trot. Coral don’t fancy their chances to beat them to n il, though, with a price of 11/5.