If you believe Mike Phelan, who worked as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant manager at Old Trafford until the end of last season, Manchester United would have signed a world-class superstar in the summer had Ferguson and the club's chief executive David Gill stayed at the club.

"If Sir Alex and David Gill had still been the bosses, I won't name the player, but there would have been a star signing, one of the absolute best players in the world," he told a Scandinavian United supporters' club magazine.

"It was something the boss talked about, and the owners and David Gill were also quite clear on doing it.

"There's very few of such players out there. I think it's clear to everybody who I'm talking about."

Well, Mike, we're not entirely sure actually - but we've had five guesses at who you might have been referring to.

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale was intent on joining Real Madrid - and Real Madrid were intent on signing Gareth Bale. After one of the longest transfer sagas in living memory, the transfer eventually happened, but not before it was reported that Manchester United were interested in the ex-Tottenham star.

Bale, though, only had eyes for Real and went on to cement his status as the most expensive footballer in history.

How close was he to joining the Red Devils?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo regards Sir Alex Ferguson as a father figure after spending six years at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009.

So, when Fergie went so did United's chances of re-signing the Portuguese superstar, who penned a new contract with Real Madrid in September.

Was Micky Phelan referring to CR7?

Mesut Ozil

As Arsenal proved in the final days of the transfer window, Mesut Ozil was available to buy from Real Madrid this summer.

The Germany international had been linked with a move to Old Trafford several years ago - indeed, Wayne Rooney even recommended the playmaker to his manager - and perhaps Ferguson would have gone for him had he postponed his retirement.

Now Ozil's at Arsenal - and showing United exactly what they missed out on.

Cesc Fabregas

David Moyes was determined to make Cesc Fabregas his marquee signing this summer, but was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempts to lure the Spain international from Barcelona.

Would Ferguson have had more luck? Barcelona insisted that they were never prepared to sell the midfielder, although they may have been tempted had a bid of around £40m been received.

Robert Lewandowski

Sir Alex Ferguson proved in 2012 that if you think you've got too many strikers at the club, it's probably a good time to buy another striker.

The Scot had reportedly been keen to sign Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, who only had a year left on his contract last summer.

The Poland international seemed - and still seems - determined to join Bayern Munich, but could one of the world's most respected coaches had convinced him to join the Red Devils?

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Ronaldo
Gareth Bale
Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo
Francesc Fabregas