In search of a tenacious figure to step into the heart of a struggling lineup, D.C. United has turned attention to Inter Milan’s Gary Medel, a Chilean national team starter at two World Cups.

Medel, who turns 30 on Thursday, has moved ahead of Dutch hardman Nigel De Jong on United’s target list, the Insider learned late Wednesday.

United officials, who have declined to discuss specific players on the international market, have until next Wednesday’s MLS transfer and trade deadline to complete deals. The league’s worst team (5-14-3, six consecutive defeats) has not made any moves since the window opened July 10.

Medel, a tough-tackling center back and defensive midfielder known as “Pitbull,” is under contract with Inter through next June. However, speculation surrounding his departure has picked up speed this summer.

It’s unclear whether Medel would consider a move to MLS and to what extend United would go to acquire a player who would probably command a multi-million dollar transfer fee and the highest salary on D.C.’s roster. He has been linked with Boca Juniors, Tigres (Mexico) and Trabzonspor (Turkey).

The MLS team, though, might gain help from its unique relationship with Inter Milan: United’s primary investor, Erick Thohir, is part owner of the Italian team and former D.C. chief operating officer Michael Williamson has served in Inter’s front office since 2014.

Medel moved to the Italian club three years ago after one season with Swansea City in the Premier League. Previously, he featured for Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Universidad Catolica, his hometown team in Santiago.

Medel has earned 105 caps, fourth in Chile’s record books. He has started 34 World Cup qualifiers, seven World Cup matches (2010 and ’14) and 15 Copa America games. This summer, Medel was in the lineup for four Confederations Cup matches in Russia.

United’s talks with De Jong appear to have cooled. The 32-year-old defensive midfielder joined the Los Angeles Galaxy before the 2016 season and moved to Turkey’s Galatasaray late last summer, carrying with him a reputation for excessive force and bone-breaking tackles.

Aside from landing a defensive player, United is also in the market for an attacker. The club is last in the 22-team league in goals (18) and third from the bottom in goals conceded (42). This Saturday, United will welcome Toronto FC, MLS’s best team, to RFK Stadium.