Former Manchester United defender Gerard Pique could inadvertently boost his old club’s defensive line by keeping a rising star out of the Barcelona starting line-up.
Pique left Old Trafford after growing frustrated at a lack of fist team opportunities under Sir Alex Ferguson but has subsequently blossomed into one of the most decorated centre-backs in world football.
Such is the formidable nature of his partnership with Javier Mascherano in the heart of the Catalan giants’ defence, 25-year-old rising star Marc Bartra rarely gets a look-in.
Bartra, a graduate from the Barcelona B team, has been limited to just three La Liga starts this term, alerting Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to his potential availability.
United manager Louis van Gaal is on the lookout for defensive reinforcements with the likes of Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo missing much of the current campaign through injury.
It is thought that a bid of around £10m would be enough to sway Barcelona to part company with the defender, a fee that is unlikely to deter the Old Trafford money men.
Van Gaal earned a stay of execution as United manager last night after his makeshift Red Devils side turned on the style in the latter stages of the game to secure a 5-1 Europa League win over FC Midtjylland of Denmark.
United will learn their fate later today when the draw for the last 16 is made and at present are billed as a 10/1 shot to win the competition outright.
Do that and Van Gaal might just keep his job for next season, fail though, and Bartra is more than likely to be playing under a new United boss should he arrive in the summer.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.