Man United plan to ease defensive problems with signing of Villa captain

Manchester United are hoping to ease their defensive problems with the signing of Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar in January, according to the Express.

The central defender excelled under van Gaal as the Dutch national side made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup in the summer.

And the United boss hopes to tempt him with a cut price move to Old Trafford, with Vlaar set to see his contract at Villa Park expire at the end of the season.

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has been desperate to get the defender to commit to a new deal, but his refusal so far means he could leave for nothing at the end of the season.

That fact may well encourage United to bid for the 29-year-old in January, with Villa finding themselves in the awkward position of looking to cash in on one of their top assets.

Van Gaal has identified a central defender as a top priority in January, having spent close to £150million on attacking talents the likes of Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera in the summer.