Why van Gaal must bring ex-Manchester United defender back to Old Trafford

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique could leave Barcelona, and Louis van Gaal must bring him back to Manchester United.

Sunday's 1-0 defeat against Manchester City was a huge blow to Manchester United and their manager Louis van Gaal, but progress is being made - slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

The new signings such as Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria have all settled in well, but Ander Herrera and Radamel Falcao have endured stop-start careers at Old Trafford so far.

After the first ten games of the season, it's clear to see where United's biggest problems have arisen so far - in defence. The United backline looks chaotic for large spells in most games, and signing a dominant centre back has to be on van Gaal's wishlist in January.

United have long had great centre backs - from Jaap Stam to Rio Ferdinand to Nemanja Vidic - and now big money needs to spent on another.

Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels doesn't appear to be leaving Signal Iduna Park any time soon, but United could still land a top class centre half in the near future - and he's a familiar face to the Old Trafford faithful.

Barcelona's Gerard Pique originally joined United from the Catalan giants back in 2004, but spent just four years at the club before moving back to the Camp Nou.

Since then, the 27-year-old has established himself as a top centre back, but is currently being left out of the Barcelona side by their new manager Luis Enrique - and was looking particularly unhappy as he sat on the bench against Ajax on Wednesday.

Rumours in Spain have linked Pique with a move back to England with Chelsea, but it's United who have to push to sign him either in January or next summer.

Familiar with the surroundings of Old Trafford, Pique could make a seamless transition back to the club, whilst he's tall and strong - the perfect compliment to Marcos Rojo in defence.

Possibly most important though, is Pique's ability with the ball at his feet. Confident enough to dribble and with a great passing range, he would fit in well in van Gaal's defence.

Seemingly in the bad books at Barcelona, United could land themselves a bargain with Pique - and he may end up being one of the only world class centre backs available in the new few months.

A £24m fee has been suggested in the press, and having paid almost that amount to sign Rojo, United should be willing to fork out that amount for a player like Pique, who just needs a fresh start as Barcelona's dominance comes to its end.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch