Former Manchester United youngster Gerard Pique has found himself embroiled in speculation linking him with an exit from Catalan giants FC Barcelona in recent days. The 27-year-old has fallen out of favour at the Nou Camp, according to reports, with new manager Luis Enrique favouring alternative options in central-defence.
Pique started his youth career with the Spanish giants before securing a move to United in 2004 after being spotted by Sir Alex Ferguson. He went on to make just 12 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils before returning to La Liga in 2008 for a bargain £5 million; a cut-price of his current value.
Since leaving Old Trafford, he has turned out for Barca on 269 occasions, winning four league title, two Copa del Reys and two Champions Leagues in the process. Meanwhile, he has received a winners medal at both the World Cup and the European Championships with the Spanish national side; a player of high calibre indeed.
Pique has made just three appearances so far this campaign, with new boss Luis Enrique seemingly favouring Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu at the back. The Red Devils hope to take advantage of the situation by offering the player a return to Old Trafford, despite the fact he has only just signed a new deal with Barca, tying him to the club until 2019.
United head coach Louis van Gaal desperately needs to bolster his defence in January, with his side having taken just five points from their opening five Premier League matches and already having crashed out of the Capital One Cup to MK Dons. The loss of experienced heads Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic has certainly had a greater impact than first expected.
During a time in which Manchester United are being linked with a £140 million return for Cristiano Ronaldo, who now also plies his trade in Spain, perhaps the club hierarchy need to revalute their current situation. The Portugal international boasts an unbelievable goal scoring record since departing for the Bernabéu in 2009, this week he bagged his 25th hat-trick for Real to give him 264 goals in 254 games for the club, but is he just a luxury target?
Having spent a fortune on the likes of Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Ander Herrera over the summer months, Van Gaal has saturated his side with world class attacking talent. With the aforementioned trio already competing with Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata for a place in the Dutchman’s starting line-up, it’s difficult to see the need for Ronaldo’s services; in spite of his undoubted quality.
The addition of a dependable, defensive leader is mandatory in the upcoming window, and in terms of current needs, Pique represents a much sounder investment. A player of his quality would undoubtedly solve the crux of the club’s defensive problems.