Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has urged Louis van Gaal to sign five household names before the summer transfer window closes on September 1. The retired midfielder believes Van Gaal must make moves for Real Madrid quartet Angel di Maria, Xabi Alonso, Raphael Varane and Sami Khedira, plus Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, to arrest the Red Devils' slump into decline.
Scholes, writing in his column for the Independent, admitted he was "genuinely scared" for United - and fears the 20-time English champions will disappear into the wilderness "in the same way Liverpool did in the 1990s" unless decisive action is taken.
Scholes: Di Maria should be United's marquee signing
In order to avoid that scenario, Scholes believes it's imperative that Van Gaal splashes the cash sooner rather than later, and has urged his former employers to go big in the transfer market with 11 days left to do business - spending up to £129 million on the aforementioned quintet.
United have been strongly linked with Di Maria, who is valued at £50 million, but appear to be behind French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign the world-class Argentina international.
However, it's believed that a £200,000-a-week five-year deal is waiting for Di Maria if he gives the green light to a move to Old Trafford.
Scholes believes United should also add £25 million Real Madrid centre-back Varane to their ranks. The 21-year-old France international is widely regarded as one of the world's best young defenders and has been tipped to reunite with former manager Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in recent months.
But the chances of United convincing Real Madrid to part company with the defender appear to be extremely slim.
Looking equally as unlikely are United's hopes of signing Di Maria and Varane's Los Blancos teammate, Alonso.
It's true that the 32-year-old is no longer a first-choice pick at the Bernabeu following the arrival of Germany international Toni Kroos, but the Spaniard still possesses an allegiance to United's fierce rivals Liverpool, having spent five years with the Merseyside outfit.
Van Gaal will also appreciate that Manchester United fans are unlikely to react positively if Alonso is the big-name central midfielder brought to Old Trafford between now and the end of the transfer window, even if purchased for a nominal fee.
Khedira, however, appears to be a more obtainable target. The £24 million-rated German World Cup winner has been tipped to join either Arsenal or Chelsea in the past couple of months, but United would stand a realistic chance of signing the 27-year-old holding midfielder should they decide to make a move.
Less realistic are there chances of signing £30 million-rated Hummels from Borussia Dortmund. Jurgen Klopp recently appointed the Germany international as BVB's new captain, and United's hopes of luring him away from Signal Iduna Park before the transfer window closes now appear dead in the water.