Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves believes that the Red Devils need to abandon their hopes of signing Kevin Strootman and instead focus on bringing in a tough-tackling central defender.
United boss Louis van Gaal has endured a difficult debut season in charge of the club as he has battled with injuries and struggled to name a consistent first-team XI.
Ahead of the clash with Aston Villa on Saturday, the Old Trafford outfit are so short options in the middle third that club skipper Wayne Rooney looks set to retain his role as central midfielder.
Midfield has long been an issue for United, and recent speculation suggests than Van Gaal will look to solve it by bringing in long-term target Kevin Strootman from Roma during the January transfer window.
Hargreaves, however, feels that the Dutch ace isn’t the answer to club’s problems and instead recommended repairing their leaky defence with a top tough-tackling defender as a January priority.
"I think they'll probably get another midfielder, it looks like they're trying to get Kevin Strootman. But that's not what they need,” Hargreaves explained in an exclusive interview with The Independent.
“What they really need is a new Nemanja Vidic, a new Rio Ferdinand to compliment the others at the back.
“I don't think they need Mats Hummels, as good as a footballer as he is. I think he's one of the best passers at the back but I think they need a defender, one who can handle one-v-ones - like a Vincent Kompany. That's exactly what they need."
United have struggled for fit defenders on occasions this season and have often relied on rookies Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair to fill in at the back.
Despite conceding only five goals in their last eight matches, many observers feel that Van Gaal’s side give up too many opportunities and rely heavily on the brilliance of David de Gea all too often.