Marc-Andre Ter Stegen Barcelona
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is looking to leave Barcelona on loan for some first team actionReuters

Manchester United  manager Louis Van Gaal is planning a double raid on Barcelona with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Thomas Vermaelen in his sights.

Van Gaal is expected to strengthen his defence in the January transfer window and is looking for an experienced central defender.

The Dutchman missed out on the signing of Vermaelen from Arsenal in the summer transfer window, with the North London side deciding to sell their then skipper to Barcelona rather than a direct rival.

However, Vermaelen could make a swift return back to the English Premier League with Van Gaal considering a loan move for the Belgium international for the rest of the season, according to the Daily Express.

While Vermaelen will undoubtedly give Manchester United a bit more solidity at the back, there will be plenty of concerns over the player's fitness.

Vermaelen has been injured ever since signing for Barcelona and is yet to make his debut for the Spanish giants. The defender was expected to be named in the squad for Barcelona's Champions League game against APOEL, but the club confirmed he remains sidelined.

Considering Vermaelen's injury problems, it will be a huge risk for Van Gaal to take if he does decide to go ahead with the loan move.

The Manchester United manager has already had to deal with a raft of injuries to his defence this season, and the last thing he needs is another injury-prone player who could break down at any moment, and has not even played a competitive top flight game so far this season.

The other Barcelona player who could be on his way to Old Trafford is goalkeeper Ter Stegen. The German has been second choice so far this season in La Liga, with Luis Enrique preferring Claudio Bravo in goal.

That has led to reports suggesting Ter Stegen could move on loan in the January transfer window and Manchester United are heading the queue, according to the Daily Star.

David De Gea has been in superlative form for Manchester United and has been their best player this season. However, Van Gaal is keen to strengthen his goalkeeping ranks with another quality shotstopper, with Victor Valdes training with Manchester United in recent weeks.

But some reports have suggested the Spain international, who was ironically replaced by Ter Stegen at Barcelona after he decided to leave the Camp Nou at the end of his contract, has still not fully recovered from his knee injury, which kept him out of the World Cup.

That has led to suggestions Manchester United might not sign Valdes, leaving a spot open for a goalkeeper to come in with Anders Lindegaard widely expected to leave in January.

However, it remains to be seen how keen Ter Stegen will be on a move to Manchester United, as De Gea will undoubtedly remain the first choice at the club, considering the Spaniard's outstanding form.