Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has made it clear to Red Devils chiefs that he expects four new players to be signed before the transfer window slams shut on September 1st, with six players now identified as primary transfer targets and not a moment too soon.
That is according to the Express, who believe that Van Gaal still wants a new centre-back, left-back, right-back and versatile midfield option added to make sure United have the strength in depth required to earn a quick return to the Champions League by finishing in the top four this season.
Immediate action required
United fans under any illusions that Van Gaal's arrival would paper over the cracks of a threadbare squad were brought crashing down to earth on Saturday afternoon, with Swansea City leaving Old Trafford with all three points in the Premier League curtain raiser thanks to strikes from Ki-Sung Yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Wayne Rooney's equaliser was rendered redundant and thanks to a surprise 2-1 defeat the spotlight is now back on United executive vice president Ed Woodward, who now has only a fortnight to recruit proven quality at what at this late stage will surely be a premium price.
Right to the wire
Red Devils fans desperate to see new arrivals will most likely have their wish granted by a £16m deal for Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo, who can operate in both the centre of defence and on the left flank.
Sporting want Man United's Portuguese star Nani in return in a season-long loan, a request it looks like United are willing to meet if it means they can get a deal for much-needed defensive cover over the line.
Elsewhere Roma defender Mehdi Benatia remains the man Van Gaal sees as a new defensive linchpin capable of providing strength and structure to a three-man backline, but Bayern Munich's interest has scuppered their chances of closing a £24m move.
Midfield also a priority
Beyond the chase for Van Gaal's trusted Dutch enforcer Daley Blind there remains a concern that United lack energy and dynamism in midfield, but it will take a club-record bid to sign a proven world-class star in that position.
Real Madrid playmaker Angel di Maria and Chilean maestro Artruo Vidal are players picked by Van Gaal to drive United forward, but so far Juventus in particular have proved stubborn negotiators and quoted a hefty price tag that United chiefs simply aren't willing to pay.
AC Milan enforcer Nigel de Jong is viewed as a more realistic and cut-price option but in a more defensive area, which given United's failings against Swansea may be something Van Gaal is more desperate to remedy than ever before.
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