Manchester United are likely to make a motivated move to sign Spanish champions Barcelona's Argentine defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano as United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hopes to bring in a fulltime defensive midfielder in January, it has been reported.

The deal, if successful, will see Mascherano return to the Premier League since he left Liverpool in 2010.

Although Ferguson has a number of central midfield players, he still lacks a defense minded active midfield player who will help break down any advances from the Opposition and is now believed to make a move for the Argentine international who was consigned to the bench for the 'El Clasico' encounter with Real Madrid during the weekend.

Mascherano, 27, played a vital role in the Catalan side's dominance over its opponents last season. This season, he played mostly in the centre of defense as players like of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique have struggled with injuries.

However, Barca boss Pep Guardiola dropped Mascherano for the crucial trip to the Nou Camp, and now it remains to be seen if the manager prefers Spaniard Sergio Busquets, who is four years younger, over the Argentine for the later games.

Manchester United had earlier decided not to offer Owen Hargreaves a new deal in the summer due to the growing injury concerns and when the England international spent most of the months on the sidelines with injuries, the boss had to fill up the space with the likes of Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, who were made to combine their usual forward roles with new defensive shifts. But now the boss feels that a permanent solution has to be found and Mascherano could easily fit the bill.

Mascherano moved to Nou Camp from Anfield in August 2010 for a fee of around £22 million. But, if the new reports are to be believed, Barcelona would expect an amount of at least £25 million for the Argentine enforcer, according to a Caughtoffside report.

Javier Alejandro Mascherano has made a total of 63 appearances for Barcelona since his arrival in 2010.