Manchester United's protracted pursuit of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera was certainly one of this summer's more bizarre transfer sagas.
With new Red Devils boss David Moyes evidently desperate to land his first 'marquee' signing to fully announce himself as a worthy successor to the great Sir Alex Ferguson, the cultured Spaniard was one of his primary targets.
However, despite various rumblings insisting that the player would eventually move from La Liga to Old Trafford prior to the September 2 deadline, such a switch never materialised amid strange claims that the deal had been scuppered by rogue agents.
While all that is obviously in the past, this week certain bookmakers - including SkyBet - have made Manchester United clear favourites to sign Herrera before the close of the January window.
It is my opinion that United should not bother returning with a bid for Herrera in the new year - and certainly not at the £30.5 million fee that it would reportedly take to trigger the release clause in his contract.
While he is obviously talented, the 24-year-old's career would have appear to have regressed rather alarmingly since all the drama of the summer faded.
Indeed, Herrera has made just nine La Liga appearances so far this season, with Ernesto Valverde's Basque outfit enjoying a largely positive start to the new campaign.
He has been left on the bench as an unused substitute in games against Real Madrid, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and Levante.
What is more, in those nine appearances, Herrera has failed to register a single goal or assist. Hardly the form of a player who is ready to assume the formidable mantle of Manchester United's creator-in-chief.
I'm not suggesting outright that a vastly underwhelming run of form is enough for Herrera's career to be written off already, but Moyes' side's own lukewarm opening to the new campaign suggests that they need to be focusing their energies on bringing in in-form players who are ready to make an impact right away as Manchester United look to firmly re-establish themselves as dominant title contenders.
While there are arguably several areas of the squad in need of an immediate refresh, that creative midfield berth is the one spot where Moyes evidently needs to entice a talent who can instantly remedy what has been ailing the side who have often looked a totally different prospect than they did under the tutelage of the wily Ferguson.
I am not necessarily saying that Moyes and Manchester United should close the door for good on a potential deal for Herrera.
However, with January approaching fast, he needs a player who is simply more experienced and in far better form.
If he could possibly use the tough negotiating skills that United fans began to doubt that he actually possessed just a few short months ago and haggle Bilbao down to a far more respectable price, then perhaps something could be re-visited slightly further down the line.
However, at £30.5 million, Moyes should steer well clear for the time being.
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