Manchester United forked out £29 million to sign Ander Herrera over the summer, which was £9 million more than the £20 million Real Madrid paid Bayern Munich for the world-class Toni Kroos, who Louis van Gaal inexplicably opted against signing on arrival at Old Trafford.
Despite knowing that the Germany international was available for transfer - the player had made up his mind to leave the Allianz Arena last season - Van Gaal, for reasons still unknown, decided not to pursue a deal for the 24-year-old.
What made Van Gaal's decision all the more bizarre was the fact he had previously coached Kroos. He knew precisely what the midfielder was and is capable of producing in the biggest matches, but decided to look elsewhere, allowing Real Madrid to sign the World Cup winner for a bargain price.
Van Gaal also rejected Fabregas
Around the same time, Van Gaal also made up his mind to leave Cesc Fabregas to secure a move to Chelsea. But not pursuing a move for the former Barcelona star is more comprehensible than his decision to snub Kroos, who would have been tailor-made for Manchester United's midfield.
Fabregas has been a wonderful signing for Chelsea, but Nemanja Matic has allowed the technically-gifted Spaniard to flourish. The midfielder often neglects his defensive duties, but because of Matic's superb performances, this has gone somewhat unnoticed.
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Kroos is much more of a team player, which is why Pep Guardiola was so bitterly disappointed to see him leave the Allianz Arena in the summer.
Kroos: Complete midfielder
As well as his desire to work hard for his team, Kroos is also blessed with wonderful vision, can shoot with either foot and has the physical capacity to complete 90 minutes every week - something which seems to have become an increasingly rare commodity in modern-day footballers.
Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes, like most of the Red Devils' supporters, was mystified that Van Gaal rejected the opportunity to sign Kroos, who scored a fabulous goal during Saturday's 5-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano.
Scholes a fan
"I love watching Toni Kroos. I think he's brilliant," Schoes wrote in a Paddy Power blog. "I love the way he controls the ball and controls games. He can really play a pass and has superb vision."
The former England international added: "Kroos is capable of scoring goals too, from outside the box on either foot.
"I just wish Man United had signed him.
"Yes, it is good to see United bringing in new players, but they haven't signed anything like the quality of Kroos."
United poor so far this season
Judging by Manchester United's poor start to the season, it's hard to disagree with Scholes, who wrote his blog before the arrivals of Angel di Maria and Daley Blind.
The Red Devils have even resorted to playing Marouane Fellaini, whose Manchester United career looked as good as finished at the end of last summer, in central midfield. But while the Belgian international has performed reasonably well in recent matches, he's certainly not the answer to the Red Devils' midfield problems.
Blind has been a shrewd addition, but lacks the quality of a real world-class holding midfielder, while record signing Di Maria has been deployed out on the wing in recent matches as Van Gaal's search for his best starting eleven and formation continues.
Kroos has improved Real Madrid
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has no such concerns thanks to the acquisition of Kroos, whose central midfield partnership with Luka Modric is already one of the best in Europe.
Los Blancos won the Champions League last season, but the reigning European champions have been arguably even more impressive this season.
Over the past couple of months, they have looked like the complete team. The arrival of Kroos to replace Xabi Alonso - who moved in the opposite direction, to Bayern Munich - has made Real Madrid an even more formidable unit.
Manchester United fans are still waiting for Van Gaal to tell them why he snubbed the chance to pursue Kroos's signature - but it's an explanation they probably deserve after watching the dross on offer at Old Trafford in recent weeks.
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