New Manchester United manager David Moyes' first transfer window in charge at Old Trafford was fraught with disappointment, uncertainty and missed opportunities. Despite evidently holding an interest in a number of European football's biggest names, the Red Devils boss was only able to add one significant signing to the ranks in the guise of formidable Belgian international Marouane Fellaini.
As Moyes frantically searched for an immediate solution to his central-midfield problem, bids were reportedly tabled for, among others, the likes of former Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas and former Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara. As those aforementioned protracted pursuits proved ultimately unsuccessful, I believe United potentially missed a trick in not making serious and sustained attempts to sign one another creative force: Brazilian playmaker Kaka.
After moving from AC Milan to Real Madrid and subsequently becoming the world's most expensive footballer in 2009, Kaka's time in the Spanish capital was marred by inconsistency, with the 31-year-old largely failing to live up to his extortionate price tag.
United are in dire need of a talented creative midfield presence, there surely can be no doubt whatsoever about that. Following the retirement of the hugely influential Paul Scholes, Moyes' side have looked rather pedestrian in his absence. Many believe that Japanese international Shinji Kagawa is the answer to this particular problem, but Moyes does not appear to favour him for one reason or another.
England's Tom Cleverley is another player who could realistically fulfil the role, but questions have long since surfaced over the 24-year-old's capabilities to step up to the mark and produce quality and effective performances for the club on a consistent basis.
Despite his problems under the considerable glare of the Santiago Bernabeu, Kaka could have been a perfect antidote for what is currently ailing Moyes' midfield. While the combative Fellaini should certainly add a commanding sense of robust authority to the ranks, something that was sorely lacking as Liverpool's midfield were constantly harried and harassed in possession during the disappointing 1-0 defeat at Anfield last weekend, he does not possess the flair or indeed the necessary guile to unlock opposition defences on a consistent basis and provide good service for star striker Robin van Persie.
Kaka, who was clearly not part of new Real manager Carlo Ancelotti's plans for the 2013/14 campaign, returned to the Rossoneri on a free transfer towards the end of the transfer window - somewhat of a surprise given the astonishing fee that accompanied Kaka's transfer to La Liga in 2009. Had United made a significant play for the Brazilian, it is unclear if they would have been able to agree a similar deal or if this was largely due to the player's affection for his former employers.
It is also quite possible that Kaka would have spurned United's advances and re-joined Milan anyway. His strong connections with the club are well-documented, but one has to think that, with the 2014 World Cup in his homeland rapidly approaching, Kaka might have at least given thoughtful consideration to a potential move to the Premier League and a team of undeniable caliber such as United.
At 31, he certainly wouldn't have been ideal long-term solution to United's chronic lack of midfield creativity. But Kaka, despite his difficult spell as a rather insignificant pawn in the great Real Madrid sideshow, might well have been a suitable immediate fix for Moyes this summer. It could have been that United were indeed intent on pursuing the Brazilian this summer, but it just didn't happen.
Whatever the case, Manchester United missed a trick by not signing Kaka.