After weeks of speculation that has seen Manchester United linked to Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, reports have began to circulate that the Spanish international has now told Madrid that he wants to leave the club and join United.
Sources close to the defender have said that after hearing of United's reported bid of £28.6 million and with Real stalling on offering him a new contract beyond the two years remaining on his current deal, Ramos has made he wishes clear that he wants to leave La Liga and begin a new challenge in the Premier League.
As Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal continues to develop a side that can challenge for the Premier League title, Sergio Ramos would be a clear sign of intent in the Dutchman's plans to compete for silverware next season.
Current defensive duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and Opta-powered fantasy football game Oulala have studied the pair against Ramos over the last twelve months, in an attempt to reveal which player is the most at risk should the Spaniard's switch materialise.
Of the six key criteria analysed, Ramos has outperformed the United duo for three, pass completion (90% to 88% and 85%), aerial duels won (68% to 65.7% and 59.7%) and blocks per game (0.8 to 0.6 and 0.3).
However, Phil Jones leads for the other three. The 23-year-old excels for tackles won per game (1.9 to 1.3 and 0.9), interceptions per game (3.2 to 2.4 and 2.3) and clearances per game (8 to 4.2 and 6.5).
The stats suggest that Ramos and Jones share a mixture of qualities that have the potential to compliment each other.
So where would that leave Chris Smalling? After committing his future to Manchester United until 2019 recently, could the defender be left out in the cold by van Gaal if Ramos' reported switch to Old Trafford does happen?