Manchester United currently sit in second place in the Premier League, stalking local rivals Manchester City in pursuit of a 20th league title.
While not impressing on every front as we have grown accustomed to, the ruthless nature of United’s play, along with their never-say-die attitude, has seen them there or thereabouts still past the halfway point of the season.
Defensive frailties have, however, been far more prevalent than recent years, and Sir Alex Ferguson now appears keen to address this ahead of next season.
Fergie is believed to have targeted Dortmund defender Neven Subotic, an international teammate of United captain Nemanja Vidic, and is willing to offer around £16m to obtain the 23-year-old’s services, after receiving a glowing reference from his skipper.
Subotic, a key component of Dortmund’s Bundesliga title success last season, is rated immensely highly, however, and it is believed that the German club would attempt to hold out for a fee closer to £20m, with a host of European clubs showing an interest over the past few months.
Ferguson though, is determined to find a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who is no longer a guaranteed fixture in the starting lineup, and may be willing to stump up such funds to add to his younger defensive options such as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge over the weekend will have confirmed to Ferguson that defensive reinforcements are an absolute necessity, and Subotic is likely to be a top priority target in the summer.
The arrival of the defender at Old Trafford could spell the end of a long tenure at the club for Ferdinand, with the 33-year-old England international missing more and more through niggling injuries these days.
His confidence and assurance in possession remain evident, but having lost much of his once impressive pace, Rio could find himself shipped out should Subotic complete his move.