The latest noise coming out of Manchester United suggests Louis van Gaal and Ed Woodward are firmly focused on signing a marquee star next summer.
The Times ran a story on Friday claiming there is already work going into deals for Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Barcelona's Neymar, with the hope that at least one will agree to swap La Liga for Old Trafford next summer.
But while a transfer for any of those three has the potential to break the transfer record, the Red Devils could break another notable boundary by paying upwards of £50million to sign Everton defender John Stones.
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A report in the Independent has claimed the 21-year-old is now the top defensive target for Van Gaal, who is ready to flex his financial muscle to force Everton into selling. The Toffees managed to resist a £38m offer from Chelsea in the summer, but would reluctantly cash in if they receive what would be a world-record fee for a defender.
Stones had asked to leave for Chelsea in the summer, but, after seeing that request denied, has gone about his business in an impressively professional manner. The performances have even attracted the attention of Barcelona, but officials at Camp Nou accept they can't compete with Premier League cash.
Do they need him?
Chris Smalling has certainly impressed so far this season, but serious doubts remain over his compatriot Phil Jones, who has once again struggled to maintain his fitness.
Stones could offer Van Gaal the chance to establish a long-term centre-back pairing alongside Smalling with Jones likely to be utilised as a defensive midfielder in the future.
Such a partnership would certainly justify the £50m outlay. Indeed, eyebrows were raised when they paid £29.1m to sign Ferdinand from Leeds in 2002, but, after a thoroughly successful career as a United player, no one is questioning whether or not it was good value for money.
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