This has been a very entertaining season so far and most of the top teams have been inconsistent and have had bad performances at some point during the season. Manchester United have also suffered from bad form but are firmly in the title race and with plenty of games to go in the season, they still have an excellent chance of beating their rivals Manchester City to the Premiership title. The Red Devils had an excellent start to their season but have had some poor results mainly due to the many injuries to their backline.
The biggest blow has been the loss of Nemanja Vidic for most of the season and his presence and dominance has been sorely missed at the back for the club. Also, Phil Jones has made mistakes as a centre back, which is part of the learning process while Rio Ferdinand has also been inconsistent and it has contributed to them not being very solid at the back.
They have had a number of injuries at the back with Chris Smalling, Rafael da Silva, Johnny Evans and Rio Ferdinand also missing some games due to injury. With Vidic not playing at the back, Sir Alex Ferguson could target some other defenders in order to provide them more depth in case of injuries. Here are 10 defenders who could be targeted by the astute manager.
Germany international Mats Hummels has established himself as one of the best central defenders in the world and is an integral player for Borussia Dortmund. He played a key role in their Bundesliga title win in the previous season and could be an excellent signing for Manchester United if they can manage to persuade Dortmund to sell the player.
Hummels is also technically excellent on the ball and could be very useful to the Red Devils. With Vidic injured for most of the season and Rio Ferdinand clearly past his best, a player like Hummels would be great for the current Premier League champions. The German defender might be reluctant to move especially in January due to the Euro Championships but Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has made some superb deals in the past and certainly has the ability to convince the player if he does pursue him.
Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross could also be possibly targeted by Manchester United in the January transfer window and it could be an astute move as well considering that he will not take any time to adjust to the Premiership. He is one of the most consistent defenders in the Premiership and has developed very well under manager Tony Pulis. Shawcross is a former Manchester United player who left Old Trafford at a young age and could be eager to return there to prove his worth.
Pulis would be very reluctant to lose his captain and arguably his best defender and he would demand quite a high transfer fee for the sale of the Englishman. The Stoke defender is still young at 24 years of age and could do the job for Manchester United if signed.
Jan Vertonghen is also another option for Manchester United if Sir Alex Ferguson does target a defender. The Belgian international is currently the captain of Ajax and has a similar style to that of Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen, who has been successful in the Premiership. Vertonghen has been linked with Manchester United in the past and could be a very useful addition to Manchester United considering their injuries at the back.
Also, he is quite versatile and is capable of playing at left back or as a defensive midfielder. With a number of injuries at the back, it would be a good if they can sign a player who can provide them depth at more than one position. Ajax, who will meet Manchester United in the Europa League, will be reluctant to lose him but there is a possibility of landing him in January if Sir Alex Ferguson shows intent on signing him.
Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol is one of the most talented Spanish defenders but he has not been able to get many games at Real Madrid. With Jose Mourinho preferring Sergio Ramos at centre back over him, it is quite likely that he could look for a move away in this January transfer window. Raphael Varane has also impressed and he is also likely to be ahead of Albiol in the pecking order if the Spaniard continues to be benched.
Manchester United are one of the teams who have been linked with the centre back and he could be interested in a move to Old Trafford as he would have a better opportunity to be selected for Spain in the Euro Championships. Albiol would be available at an affordable price and Jose Mourinho could allow the defender to leave in January as well.
Valencia defender Adil Rami is one of the most consistent defenders in the La Liga and has also been linked with a move with Manchester United. The Valencia centre back could be targeted to bring solidity in defense and could be an intelligent defender by the Manchester United manager. He is also a French international and will hope to represent France in Euro 2012.
Manchester United could be a good destination for the centre back to prove his worth and with Vidic injured, he is likely to get more games this season to establish himself as a first-choice player. Rami is quite physical as well and should be able to cope with the physicality of the Premiership.
Neven Subotic has been one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and has been an integral member of the current Borussia Dortmund side. His partnership alongside Mats Hummels has been impressive and has been one of the main reasons for their Bundesliga title win in the last season. Manchester United have been linked with the Serbian international and he could be a very solid defender for the Red Devils if signed.
With Rio Ferdinand not in the best form and also suffering a number of injuries in the last couple of seasons, Subotic could be brought in as a permanent replacement for the England international. Subotic and Vidic have played together in the past for Serbia and could prove to be a very effective partnership for Manchester United as well.
Mehdi Benatia has been very solid for Udinese and the solidity of the defense is one of the main reasons why Udinese do have a decent chance of winning the Serie A title. The defender is extremely good at anticipating danger and being at the right place at the right time. He is only 24 years of age and has a bright future ahead of him.
He has been linked with a move to Manchester United but it will be difficult to persuade the Italian club to sell their defender. Benatia is very consistent and has been impressive in the Serie A and also it will cost a lot for Manchester United to sign him in the January transfer window. However, a player like him could be very useful for the Red Devils as they would be better if they were to add another quality centre back in this window.
Javier Mascherano is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world but has played for FC Barcelona in the last year as a centre back on a number of occasions. A player like Mascherano would be ideal for United especially because of Darren Fletcher's problems. Also, he can play at right back where Antonio Valencia has been utilized in many games due to the injuries sustained by Rafael da Silva and Chris Smalling.
However, it is very unlikely that FC Barcelona would want to sell Mascherano because he is an excellent squad player and also, Carles Puyol has had many injury worries in the last year. The Argentina international would be an excellent signing for United but it depends whether Sir Alex Ferguson will be able to persuade him to sign for the Red Devils.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini is one of the best centre backs in the world and has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the past. The Italian centre back is settled at Juventus and has been excellent for a number of years now. The 27-year-old defender has been very good this season as well and is one of the reasons why Juventus have done very well this season.
Manchester United will have to spend a great deal of money to sign the defender, and also, it will be difficult to persuade him to leave Juventus especially when the club is fighting for its title. With Rio Ferdinand suffering injuries and poor form, they might need to add another experienced world-class defender and he does fit the bill. It would be a huge coup for Manchester United if they are able to sign him. Though it is very probable that he would not move, strange and unexpected transfer moves have happened in the past and this possibility cannot be ruled out.
Fabricio Coloccini is a defender who has not been linked with a move to Old Trafford but he is a defender who could be targeted if United are not able to sign their preferred targets. The Newcastle United defender has been one of the best defenders in the Premiership this season and has been one of the main reasons for Newcastle's superb performances in this season.
Coloccini has brought plenty of leadership to the team and has been very solid at the back for the Magpies. He is one of the more underrated players but is very good at anticipating and cutting out attacks. Also, he is technically good on the ball and can bring out the ball from the back. Though manager Alan Pardew will be very reluctant to sell him, Newcastle have sold some of their big players in the past and if the right money is offered, then United could sign the talented centre back.