Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has moved to assure fans that the Old Trafford club can still compete with the world's richest sides for the top players in world football - so with that in mind, who could United's next major signing be?
Sir Alex Ferguson's club have traditionally been linked with the biggest names in world football, but in recent seasons the big-money deals for the game's established talent have largely bypassed the red half of Manchester.
Aside from the £24m deal for Robin Van Persie, United's big-money transfers for stars over the age of 25 have not always worked out too well - Dimitar Berbatov and Juan Sebastian Veron immediately spring to mind.
But Woodward insists Ferguson will be, and has always been, 'wholeheartedly' backed in his transfer activity.
"If a top star who is over 25 comes along that Sir Alex wants, he'll be supported," Woodward told BBC Sport. "Every player that Sir Alex has gone after has been approved."
So, who are five top stars over the age of 25 who Manchester United could target in January, or at the end of the season…
Wesley Sneijder - Inter Milan
The Netherlands international has been continually linked with a move to Old Trafford for the past few transfer windows, but reported interest has not converted into any firm bids.
A playmaker in the purest sense, Sneijder would not immediately solve Manchester United's need for a box-to-box centre midfielder, but the Dutchman's class would be a welcome addition to Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Recent reports in Italy have suggested all is not well for Sneijder at Inter Milan, potentially opening up an opportunity for United in January.
Robin Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder in the same team would make United an imposing prospect - a double dutch delight.
Marouane Fellaini - Everton
The 24-year-old will turn 25 by the time the January transfer window opens, and the Everton star is quickly establishing himself as one of the Premier League's most coveted centre midfielders.
The powerful Belgian physically dominates almost every opposition he comes against, but the Toffees would be extremely reluctant to sell the former-Standard Liege player.
Signed for £15m in 2008, United could expect to pay an awful lot more, but Fellaini certainly fits the profile of a top player, while still towards the lower end of the 'established star' age-range.
Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid
The Real Madrid centre-back reportedly fell out with Jose Mourinho earlier this season, and although he seems to have patched up his differences, the Spainard is a world-class centre-back capable of improving any side.
Linked with a Premier League move last month, the double European champion and World Cup winner would immediately bolster a shaky Manchester United defence.
Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans have all spent time on the treatment table this season - so Sergio Ramos would be a welcome addition for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Daniele De Rossi - AS Roma
The Italy international is one of the best midfielders in the world, and like Ramos, has been linked with a move to the Premier League.
Chelsea and Manchester City were thought to be interested, with City reportedly set to bid for the £30m-rated star.
United have question marks over their centre midfield, with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes approaching the end of their Old Trafford careers, Anderson and Michael Carrick failing to impress consistenyl and Darren Fletcher only just returning from long-term injury.
De Rossi would slot straight into the United midfield - an immediate upgrade for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Joao Moutinho - Porto
The Portugal international was a transfer target for Tottenham over the summer, and now Paris St Germain and Zenit St Petersburg have entered the race for the £22m-rated midfielder.
But Manchester United should consider a move for the Portugal playmaker, especially if he becomes available in January.
Moutinho is one of the best passers in Europe, and would be a Champions League-quality addition to the Manchester United midfield.
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