Manchester United were advised to sign both Axel Witsel and Thibaut Courtois before the duo found their feet in professional football, according to former Old Trafford scout Ed van Stijn.
The Belgium pair are both now recognised as reputable talents in Europe, with the former being linked with a United move this summer and the latter the established first-choice goalkeeper at Chelsea.
However, according to Ed van Stijn, the duo could have been Red Devil stars by now, as he told his ex-club about their potential.
Van Stijn, who was writing in a column for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, said that Courtois and Witsel weren’t the only players United opted not to sign after his recommendation and also implied his text, which can be read here, that they regretted it.
"When I retired about three years ago, I wrote in my farewell letter to the club that they have to change their strategy and had to invest in top young talents," he said.
"I chose Witsel and also Thibaut Courtois as examples. Both of them have they could have at that time. And they regret it!"
Of the two it’s fair to say that Courtois has become the more prominent in terms of playing his football at an elite level.
Could United have done with Courtois?
The tall shot-stopper made his name as a world-class goalkeeper whilst on a three-year loan spell with Atletico Madrid, before returning to Chelsea last summer and winning the Premier League with the Blues during his first senior season in England.
Though United boast David de Gea, who can currently claim to be one of the best in the world, for how much longer they’ll be able to do so remains to be seen.
Real Madrid are known admirers of the Spaniard and are expected to be doing their best all summer to convince Louis van Gaal to sell. If only United could call Courtois back from a lengthy loan deal...
Yet whilst it’s easy to ponder what might have been it’s also important to consider what could still come to pass.
They may have decided against signing Witsel when Van Stijn put his name forward but rumour has it United would be ready to try and tempt Zenit St Petersburg into a sale. One would assume he’ll cost far more now than he would have if Van Stijn had has his way, but you live and you learn, right?
United fans, who do you want to see arriving this summer? Which of your targets should Van Gaal concentrate on signing? Let us know in the comments box below.