Manchester United manager David Moyes will target Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera and FC Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala in the January transfer window to help recover a disappointing start to the season, ESPN reports.
United were thumped 4-1 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, a defeat which worked to emphasise the chasm between two sides who endured contrasting fortunes in the transfer market.
While City signed five players in Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Steven Jovetic and Martin Demichelis in the summer, United failed to land any of their top targets, instead settling on signing Marouane Fellaini from Everton on deadline day.
And the club's uncertain transfer window activity has been reflected in the start of their defence of the Premier League title, with just two wins coming from their opening five games.
Despite Moyes and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's failure to land a number of high-profile players in the summer transfer window including Cesc Fabregas and Gareth Bale United are already laying down plans for January.
The club were unable to clinch a deal for Herrera, the Bilbao playmaker, on deadline day after refusing to match the Spaniard's £30.53m release clause despite reportedly agreeing terms with the player.
Herrera has since denied any discussions took place but United will plan to test Bilbao's resolve in the New Year while attempting once again to avoid paying the 24 year old's full release clause.
United's midfield has been accused of being lightweight in dispatches this season with the combination of Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs in the middle for the League Cup win over Liverpool an indication of Moyes' lack of options.
Herrera would also prove a useful addition if Tom Cleverley's knee problems prove more serious than first feared.
However, Moyes' activity in the window is likely to extend beyond reinforcing United's problem position in midfield, with the centre of defence also in need of freshening up.
Captain Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand's current deals both expire at the end of the season and the pair's lengthy injury history makes it uncertain that either will be offered fresh contracts.
Vidic has suffered a succession of knee problems during the last two years while Ferdinand has a long-standing back injury which saw his involvement last season prioritised to the Premier League.
Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are all in reserve but are all long-term injury victims themselves forcing Moyes to look further afield to solve his defensive issues.
Mangala, 22, has built a reputation as a physically dominating centre-half and has previously been linked with moves to Chelsea, Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain, all of whom have baulked at his reported £37.8 buy-out clause.