Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has been critical of the club’s spending over the past year, stating they could have bought Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas and Felipe Luis if they had employed a wiser approach in the transfer market.
Manchester United have signed Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw in the past three transfer windows, inclusive of this one, but fans have endured something of a torturous time despite these acquisitions.
These have been testing times as the club have seemingly tried and failed to secure a number of targets, or instead allow marquee players to move to some of their closest rivals relatively unchallenged.
While Manchester United have seemingly struggled to get deals over the line, the club have still managed to spend over £120 million in less than a year - with Paris Saint-Germain the only European side with a higher net outlay over the same period.
The club unquestionably have the financial power to compete in the transfer market, but it would appear they are not spending their money well enough. Neville certainly feels this is the case, and has been frustrated to see a stream of potentially ideal signings move to other teams
Is Neville right?
"Can they get players they want? Last year they bought players who didn't fit their philosophy,” Neville said on Monday Night Football.
"For the same or similar money Manchester United have spent in last 12 months, they could've bought Bale, Kroos, Fabregas and Felipe Luis."
He added: “I like to go back and look at things.
"We were sat here 12 months ago and as a Manchester United fan if you’d said to me the champions of England, who’d just beaten Swansea away from home, were going to spend £140million in the next 12 months and be where they are today I’d say you’re mad."
Of these four players listed by Neville, two moved to Real Madrid - Bale and Kroos - while the other pair, Fabregas and Luis, to Chelsea. It is no surprise these sides are now favourites to win their respective leagues.
While a failure to sign Bale is understandable given the player’s desire to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it is more difficult to be forgiving when it comes to the proposed acquisition of either Fabregas or Kroos.
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Fabregas was a player initially wanted by David Moyes, although a year ago Barcelona were unwilling to sell. But he became available this summer with Barcelona having recruited Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla.
Manchester United were thought to be in the market for the Spain international once again, although he chose a transfer to Chelsea after Arsenal passed on the opportunity.
Fabregas favoured a return to London, but Manchester United ought to have been able to persuade him that Old Trafford actually represented the ideal place for him to further his career.
Similarly with Kroos, he is a player that would have been an ideal fit for the club. Just ask Paul Scholes, who has expressed his frustration that the German was not recruited as his successor.
Yes, Real Madrid have an allure even greater than that of Manchester United, but the latter could have built their team around him. In Madrid, Kroos is another cog in a very talented squad, just as he was at Bayern Munich.
But at Manchester United he would have been the main man, lead orchestrator and heartbeat of the midfield. It still remains difficult to fathom why are more concerted effort was not made to sign him.