Inter target United striker Javier Hernandez as part of exchange deal for Fredy Guarin
Inter Milan are planning to exploit Manchester United's interest in midfielder Fredy Guarin by pursuing a January move for Javier Hernandez.
Colombia international Guarin is among a number of targets identified by United manager David Moyes as potential recruits in next month's transfer window, with the Scot determined to address growing concerns over the strength of midfield options in his squad.
Moyes spent Wednesday evening in Spain, watching Atletico Madrid's Champions League victory against Porto at Vicente Calderon, but although Spanish media has suggested that the purpose of his trip was to watch the Atletico midfielder Koke, it is understood that the 21-year-old is not in United's plans.
The Porto centre-half Ezequiel Mangala is believed to have been scouted by Moyes, with the Scot also assessing the fitness and condition of Lucho Gonzalez, the experienced Porto midfielder who he twice attempted to sign as Everton manager.
Inter have been made aware of United's interest in Guarin, however, and the Italian club are hopeful of using the 27-year-old as a bargaining tool to persuade Moyes to sell Hernandez.
The Mexican forward has started just three Premier League games for United this season and, in total, made just 13 appearances in all competitions, scoring four times.
Although both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have missed games this season, Hernandez has struggled to convince Moyes of his starting credentials, with the 25-year-old making little impact in the fixtures in which he has been involved.
While Moyes is reluctant to weaken his attacking options in January by allowing any of his forwards to leave, with the exception of Federico Macheda, Inter could test United's resolve, and Hernandez's commitment to the club, by lodging an official bid for the player, whose current contract expires in June 2016.
Inter, having failed to qualify for Europe this season, are attempting to rebuild their squad under coach Walter Mazzarri and are keen to recruit a proven goalscorer.
And while Guarin is a key figure in Inter's midfield, the club are prepared to sell if they receive an offer in the region of £18m for the former St Etienne and Porto player, who is regarded as a physical and combative box-to-box midfielder in Serie A.
Moyes has made it clear to United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that he would ideally want to make two additions to squad next month, but while that remains the objective, the priority for the manager is a new midfielder.
Interest in Ander Herrera, the Athletic Bilbao midfielder, has cooled since United aborted a move for the player on the final day of the August transfer window.
Benfica's Nemanja Matic, formerly of Chelsea, continues to be watched by United, who have also repeatedly scouted Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan.
Mangala, the France international, is regarded as a potential solution to United's defensive concerns, which have been exacerbated recently by Rio Ferdinand's loss of form and Nemanja Vidic's injury problems.
Moyes's trip to Madrid has also raised the prospect of a third attempt to sign Gonzalez, the former Argentina midfielder.
Although he will be 33 next month, Gonzalez is out of contract at Porto next summer and his top-level experience could see him solve a short-term problem for United, and ease concerns over securing a top four finish, before more forward-thinking moves are made next summer.
Meanwhile, United full-back Alex Buttner insists he will be fit for Sunday's trip to Aston Villa after appearing be injured during the closing stages of Tuesday's Champions League victory against Shakhtar Donetsk.
"I just got cramp in my calf because I haven't played many games," Buttner said. "It was my first start for more than a month so it was hard for me.
"In the last minutes, I could not run anymore because I had cramp and that is why I was substituted. I ran a lot and worked hard for the team but, for the last couple of minutes, I was tired.
"I am okay for the weekend. I want to play every game and I think it's good if a player wants to play in every game."