Fresh off the back of being labelled as the world's most popular sports club, Manchester United have come under fire for their transfer policy, after accusations suggesting that they are more concerned with boosting their global image, rather than signing a world-class calibre of player.
In a week where United missed out on Eden Hazard following his decision to join Champions League winners Chelsea, Shinji Kagawa has confirmed that he has held talks with Sir Alex Ferguson about the prospect of sealing a summer switch to Old Trafford; a move which has forced United into defending their forays into the transfer market.
Kagawa, who has been described as potentially the biggest star to emerge from the Far East since former Japan striker Hidetoshi Nakata, is reportedly on the verge of completing a £14million move to the Red Devils from German champions Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund's sporting director, Michael Zorc, admitted on Tuesday that a deal with United was close, with only "some details to be confirmed".
The 23-year-old has been tracked by officials at Old Trafford for some time, with Ferguson and his trusted assistant, Mike Phelan, most recently watching the diminutive midfielder in action during Dortmund's 5-2 German Cup Final victory against Bayern Munich.
And, although a latest survey suggests that United have 659 million followers around the world, a figure that represents almost 10% of the world's population, commercial director Richard Arnold has refuted the claims that United's global appeal is solely dependant on smart player acquisitions.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Arnold said: "We don't sign players to sell shirts. We are reliant on 25 players and they are all massive stars. We have 25 George Clooneys.
"When you look at the success we've seen in that part of the world [Asia], it isn't down to any one player or person. Of course, Ji [Sung Park] is a fantastic player, was captain of the South Korea team and continues to be a key part of our squad.
"But for Manchester United, it's more than any one player. It was more than George Best, it was more than Bryan Robson, it was more than David Beckham, it was more than Cantona, than Park."
Whilst Arnold continues to bat away such accusations, he accepts that certain United stars have a worldwide appeal that contributes to their status as a global powerhouse.
"Ji is very popular in Korea, just as Javier Hernandez is hugely popular in Mexico, but Paul Scholes has his own Chinese character.
"These are huge stars and the big stars are the big stars in every country. Our games are shown in 1.1 billion homes across the globe and you think 'which film does that 60 times a year?'
"Be it George Clooney or Brad Pitt, what is there where that is shown? There just isn't anything like it."
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