The Red Devils took a scattergun approach to the summer transfer window following the appointment of David Moyes as their new manager.
Having failed with a series of attempts to sign Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, Manchester United reportedly made moves for Sami Khedira, Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara and Luka Modric as deadline day loomed.
Eventually they landed Marouane Fellaini from Moyes's former club Everton in a deal worth £27.5 million.
However according to El Confidencial, Manchester United made an approach for another midfielder, Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso, before they eventually settled on the Belgian.
The Spanish source report that Manchester United made the move for the former Liverpool player on deadline day, but were knocked back by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Alonso was a hit at Anfield but left to join Real Madrid in 2009, and has since been linked with a move back to the Premier League.
Speculation has increased as contract talks with Real Madrid drag on - as it stands the 32-year-old will leave the Bernabeu when his contract expires in the summer.
Whether the Red Devils will go back in for Alonso in January remains to be seen, although El Confidencial report that Alonso is still hesitant to commit his future to the Spanish giants.
Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with a move for the crafty midfielder in the past.
El Confidencial add that another Manchester United target, Sami Khedira, has agreed a contract extension that will put to an end the speculation regarding his future.