The two stories took different turns - United's pursuit of Garay is reportedly over while Mangala will be watched by club scouts through the beginning of this season.
But that's besides the point. Why are United trying to strengthen at the back when central midfield is clearly the area they need to improve?
It's particularly damning for United on the same day that it emerged that Cesc Fabregas confirmed he never entertained the notion of joining the Old Trafford side.
First Thiago Alcantara reportedly claimed he was never approached by United, now Cesc Fabregas suggests all that talk was always leading down a dead-end.
United need to refocus their strategy. Forget a new defender - with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans they have three able replacements for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
There's no pressing issue there. Instead, central midfield continues to perplex. Michael Carrick is a Champions League worthy midfielder, but the jury's still out on Tom Cleverley.
Anderson has had enough chances. Ever since Paul Scholes started winding down and it became apparent the Brazilian wasn't the man to fill his boots Manchester United have needed another centre midfielder.
Robin Van Persie papered over the cracks last season, but they might not get that luxury this term.
If David Moyes thought Marouane Fellaini was the answer he shouldn't have wasted his time with Fabregas.
If the Belgian could solve United's problems, Moyes should have brought him right behind him through the Old Trafford door. Now he just looks like the last choice. Not even second best.
Granted, there's not too many options to choose from - but there's enough to make a start.
Real Madrid will have to offload a few of their fringe players should the Gareth Bale transfer go through. Following the arrival of Asier Illarramendi, Luka Modric - even with injury to Xabi Alonso - must fear for his place at the Bernabeu long-term.
He'd be perfect in the United midfield. Even Mesut Ozil or Sami Khedira would be a statement of intent from Moyes.
Failing that, a move for Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan makes a huge amount of sense. And if Arsenal are going for Yohan Cabaye at £12m, then why not United?
He hasn't got the reputation of Ozil or Gundogan, but at that price he's a definite upgrade over Anderson and Cleverley.
There's still a week to go until the transfer deadline but United need to forget adding to an already stacked defence - midfield should be the focus.