Manchester United preparing to pinch back Gerard Pique?
Manchester United (14/1 to win the Premier League) are reportedly keen on re-acquiring Barcelona and Spain centre back Gerard Pique in the January transfer window, in an attempt to shore up their shaky rearguard.
The Red Devils have conceded 12 goals already this term in all competitions, and coach Louis van Gaal is rumoured to be eager to plug the holes in his leaky defence with decorated star Pique.
Spaniard Pique would command a high price, but the 27-year-old’s experience and winning mentality could prove invaluable to United’s injury-plagued and error-prone backline, as the Old Trafford outfit chase a Champions League spot.
The mooted return of Pique would also satisfy the differing factions of fans and media who are torn over the Premier League giants’ recent transfer policy.
After spending four years in the red half of Manchester, regularly representing the youth academy and reserves between 2004-2008, the composed centre back would qualify as a homegrown player, whilst also being a blockbuster buy.
Pique made only 23 appearances in all competitions for United, but still enjoyed silverware success with the northwest club, lifting both the Champions League and Premier League trophies during his time in Manchester.
With the world class defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic standing firmly in the way of first-team opportunities at Old Trafford, Pique returned to boyhood club Barca, who he had originally left to improve his chances of game time.
Having established himself as an invaluable component in the Catalan giants’ record-breaking team, which included four La Liga medals and two further Champions League trophies, the tables now seem to have turned.
Faced with being left out in the cold by the La Liga giants, the Spaniard could seek solace with his former side, where he would likely be one of the first names on Van Gaal’s teamsheet.
Pique has struggled to establish himself in new Barca boss Luis Enrique’s starting XI, and is currently standing in the shadows of first choice centre back picks Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu.
The former Manchester United man has still notched up two starts out of Barca’s five outings this term, but it is believed Enrique favours the impressive pairing of Mascherano and Mathieu.
With the defensive duo both 30, it is unlikely the Nou Camp club would wish to part with the younger Pique, but he has already seen himself left on the fringes of his national team and could be keen to move on in a bid to claim back his spot.
Raul Albiol and Sergio Ramos made up the heart of Spain’s defence in the Iberian outfit’s 5-1 mauling of Macedonia last time out, with Pique dropped for his country’s most recent games.
If he remains second-fiddle at Barca, World Cup winner and European Champion Pique, who has 61 caps for Spain, could see himself slip down the pecking order permanently.
Having had no qualms about leaving his hometown club for the sake of his career before, these developments are good news for United’s chances of securing his services once more.
The Red Devils backline have not looked comfortable when on the back foot this season, with inexperienced Tyler Blackett given a baptism of fire by Van Gaal after injuries to Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
Summer signing Marcos Rojo has also yet to impress but has been drafted in as a left back so far, leaving space for another defensive addition.
Pique is already well known to Van Gaal, having been in Barca’s famed La Masia academy when the Dutchman was coach of the Catalan club, which could sway any decision in United’s favour. In addition, the chance to prove himself at his former side could prove appealing enough to lure the Spaniard from the Nou Camp’s clutches.