Only three first team players have arrived at Manchester United during Louis van Gaal’s tenure that cost less than £10m. Two of them – Victor Valdes and Sergio Romero – are goalkeepers playing backup to David de Gea, the other is former Bayern Munich veteran Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Every other acquisition is approaching, or is in, his prime and cost a pretty penny.
Eventually, the suits at Old Trafford will expect such prolonged heavy spending to return some silverware, but for now Ed Woodward and co are happy backing their manager financially.
At a recent fan forum, the executive vice chairman vowed that the squad will continue to be strengthened while still rewarding young talent.
The admission means that more of the continent’s biggest hitters can expect to be the subject of Red Devils interest, as Van Gaal tries to return the club back to its glory days.
Few arrivals are likely to match Anthony Martial’s for jaw-dropping impact or surprising fee but there can be little doubt that United are prepared to spend big if required.
Rumours linking the 6/1 Premier League hopefuls with both Thomas Muller and Neymar continue to crop up, while hot streaks like Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s aren’t likely to have gone unnoticed.
Of course not every signing will be a household name of that nature and the captures of Regan Poole, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Sadiq El Fitouri show that Van Gaal is also building for long-term success through the transfer market.
Even the likes of Luke Shaw, Memphis Depay and Daley Blind have been acquired with an eye to longevity, despite their obvious abilities to contribute to the first team right away.
It seems the shift away from usual youth-promoting practices will continue for the forseeable future.
Indeed, the few chances the likes of James Wilson, Andreas Pereira and Adnan Januzaj have been afforded suggest that while Van Gaal is happy having youth around, he’s not going to lean heavily on them throughout the campaign.
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