Defence is the biggest area of concern for Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal at the moment and the club has planned a double swoop for Ashley Cole and Benedikt Howedes in the January transfer window.

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is struggling to find the right balance because of injuries to key players like Phil Jones and signing world class defenders is the first priority of the Dutchman in the winter transfer window. And reports coming from different sources have claimed today that Manchester United are planning moves for AS Roma’s Ashley Cole and Schalke’s Benedikt Howedes.

Howedes was a key member of Germany’s World Cup winning squad and he is in a good run of form for Schalke this season. has reported today that Manchester United are planning a swoop for Howedes in January. The report claims that: “Manchester United have sent scouts to run the rule over Schalke’s World Cup-winning defender Benedikt Howedes, Goal understands. Howedes was an ever-present at left-back for Germany in the summer, but primarily plays in the heart of the defence for the Bundesliga side.”

Benedikt Howedes is a versatile player as he is equally comfortable on left side of the defence and in the central area of the pitch. Manchester United defenders are struggling badly this season as they have conceded 13 goals in just 9 games of Premier League so far.

Manchester United have scouted Howedes on many occasion in past few weeksSoccer - UEFA Champions League - First Knockout Round - Second Leg - Chelsea v Olympiakos - Stamford Bridge and offer in the region of 14-16 million euros is on the cards.

Meanwhile, apart from Howedes, Manchester United are also planning a January swoop for former Chelsea and current AS Roma star Ashley Cole.

Ashley Cole moved to AS Roma this August but reports coming from Italy have claimed that the player is unsettled at his new club. And the report of Daily Express has claimed today that Manchester United are ready to offer him a short term contract.

Roma boss Rudi Garcia is not happy with the performance levels of Ashley Cole so far and he has asked the club management to sign a replacement for the player in January. Louis van Gaal is closely watching the situation and he is interested in taking player back to England.

Manchester United boss Van Gaal has been forced to change his defenders on numerous occasions because of injuries to the likes of Luke Shaw and Phil Jones and he feels that Cole is the perfect candidate to add more depth to his squad.

Howedes Image Courtesy: Schakle Official Website