Manchester United could resurrect their interest in Chelsea's Frank Lampard, who will leave the club on a free in the summer.
Sir Alex Ferguson mulled over the possibility of signing Lampard, 34, a year ago when the midfielder found himself the victim of André Villas-Boas' shake-up at Stamford Bridge.
United chief executive David Gill was even rumoured to have met with Chelsea officials but Ferguson eventually settled with the return of Paul Scholes after his six-month retirement.
Via another client of agent Steve Kutner, whom Ferguson is close to, the Scot allegedly established Lampard would be receptive to continuing his Premier League career in the north before neglecting to pursue the matter in January 2012.
Lampard has scored 193 goals for Chelsea
But whereas last year Chelsea would have commanded a transfer fee for Lampard on top of his six-figure-a-week wages, United's negotiations will be helped by the England international being a free agent.
Lampard's friendship with Rio Ferdinand may also aid his chances of joining the Old Trafford club, although Ferdinand is also out of contract this summer and is now free to negotiate with foreign clubs.
Ferguson was effusive about Lampard in a 2009 interview with Hugh McIlvanney
Ferguson said last year: "Do you really think Chelsea would sell to United in January? Chelsea want to do something in the second half of the season so they want to keep their best players."
Ferguson has previously hailed Lampard as "incredible" and is a great admirer of his goalscoring prowess in the Premier League. Lampard has scored 193 goals in 11-and-a-half-years at Chelsea and would offer a greater goal threat than United's current midfield. Tom Cleverley leads the way on four goals, two ahead of Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Anderson with Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher trailing on one apiece.
The respect between the duo is mutual. Playing for United appealed to Lampard a year ago as he suffered under Villas-Boas' brusqueness, but the Portuguese's sacking and Roberto di Matteo's appointment as caretaker coach elevated Lampard back into the starting XI.
Lampard has scored four times past United
Lampard went on to score five more goals that season and started in both the FA Cup and Champions League final triumphs.
Astonishingly, Ferguson has not signed a central midfielder in five-and-a-half-years despite United having a paucity of options since he bought Anderson and Owen Hargreaves in 2007.
Hargreaves played just five more times in three seasons after his debut campaign while Anderson's progress has also been blighted by fitness concerns, with Darren Fletcher an admirable deputy between 2008-10.
Ryan Giggs, Scholes and Fletcher could however depart United in the close season with the former two now 39 and 38 while 27-year-old Fletcher is struggling to perform after convalescing for almost a year to treat his ulcerative colitis.
Giggs supplied Robin van Persie with a superb 55-yard pass at West Ham on Saturday
Michael Carrick, an indispensable first-teamer for over a year, is in desperate need of a regular partner and Lampard's domestic and continental savvy appeals to Ferguson.
United fans may be concerned that Ferguson is prioritising a player who turns 35 in the summer. Feasibly though, Lampard may have to accept the impact role Scholes and Giggs have adopted in the twilight of their careers.
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