Surely Ed Woodward and David Moyes must have learned something from last summer's transfer farce that made Manchester United look silly?
While there were many stories and rumours flying around there were at least two that suggested naivety on the part of the new management team: Thiago Alcantara and the failed Marouane Fellaini/Leighton Baines double bid.
In the first case it appears that United tried to buy Thiago at or below his release clause from Barcelona of £17million. Bayern Munich simply slapped £22million on the table and the deal was done.
The bid for Fellaini and Baines was embarrassing. United first offered £28million for the pair which they upped to £36million before eating humble pie at the eleventh hour and stumping up £27million for Fellaini alone.
In between they publicly failed to buy anyone else except 17-year-old Saidi Janko.
Woodward's background is commercial, where he is more used to negotiating financing deals and sponsorship contracts. In such markets it is not unusual to start low and haggle until the two parties agree on a price.
But right now United cannot afford to haggle. The season is more than half over; they are out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle and are struggling to qualify for the Champions League. Title aspirations are long gone.
As each day passes another possible transfer target becomes impossible before the summer at the earliest, or at all. Meanwhile Chelsea have already done business, swallowing their pride to buy back Nemanja Matic for £20million more than they sold him for. But they have bought a midfielder, which United badly need.
It is now halfway through January and one of the targets that has been most rumoured is Everton Ribeiro from Cruzeiro, recently voted the best player in Brazil this season. He seems to tick all the boxes.
According to Sky Sports, his agent has confirmed a bid from one unnamed Premier League club suggesting that it was for €10million. Don't say it's United trying it on again? There is no way Cruzeiro will sell for that and negotiations look set to continue.
But haven't United learned two things from last summer? First that they definitely need at least two midfielders immediately, which is why they are languishing in seventh place in the league.
Second that by 'low-balling', as they did with Everton last summer, they risk antagonising the selling club at best and allowing another club to nip in and steal the player at worst. If that turns out to be Manchester City the sky could fall in at Old Trafford.
Of course Ribeiro is untried in Europe, let alone England, but if he is as good as he appears to be and minded to join United (he previously admitted to playing as United in computer games), then Moyes and Woodward need to get the deal done pronto!
Surely even at £20million he would look like a bargain?
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