Reds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to strengthen all areas of his squad and a new central midfielder is high on his wanted list.
Young starlets such as Leicester City's James Maddison and West Ham's Declan Rice have been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford, but there is zero chance of either deal happening in January as both clubs refuse to sell midway through a season.
With that in mind, reports claim that Solskjaer will turn his focus to Rakitic, who has bags of quality and experience, and at the age of 31 still has some of his best years ahead of him.
He could be the answer to some of United's issues and there is a good chance of getting him on board as Barca are willing to sell at the right price, as he struggles for game time at the Nou Camp.
That figure is set to stand at £35million and United would have no problems matching it when the window opens.
Talks are said to have started with the Catalan giants over a potential deal, but United are not the only interested party and they will face competition from elsewhere.
AC Milan are also said to be in the hunt as they look to build a side capable of getting back into the top four of Serie A, and see Rakitic as such the kind of player they need.
The Croatian international is desperate to play first-team football and will be keen to join a club that can offer that on a regular basis.
That could put Milan in the box seat to do a deal, because as things stand, he would be one of the first names on the team sheet if they could do a deal.