Ashley Cole
Ashley ColeReuters

Manchester United are preparing a deal for AS Roma defender Ashley Cole in January, according to the Daily Express.

Roma manager Rudi Garcia has reportedly instructed the club to search for a replacement as the former Arsenal and Chelsea man cannot cope with the high-intensity football that the Italians are looking to play.

The defender is also not happy with life in Italy and is looking to move back to the Premier League, where he won four titles.

United's interest is likely to be accepted with open arms by Cole, who left Chelsea in the summer on a free transfer.

United manager Louis van Gaal is looking to add competition for Luke Shaw, whose performances thus far have been inconsistent. However, the teenager put in a good shift against Chelsea where the Red Devils managed to hold the leaders to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Cole will bring some much needed experience to the United back-line, which is sorely missing the services of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. The duo left the club in the summer after the expiry of their contracts but the Red Devils are yet to replace them properly thus far. A lack of leadership at the back wreaked havoc at the start of the season and led to them conceding five against a newly promoted Leicester City.

The defence has improved by leaps and bounds since the debacle but is still susceptible to errors, something which can be ironed out by adding someone with the technical know-how of Cole.

United are currently in eighth spot, three points behind West Ham in fourth as they look to take points off their Manchester rivals when they travel to the Etihad on Sunday. Wayne Rooney, who is available after serving a three game suspension has been deemed fit to start and will join Radamel Falco and Angel di Maria to complete what is arguably the league's best front three.