It is 20 days now since Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward’s left their pre-season tour of Australia on “urgent transfer business”, yet the Red Devils’ only summer purchase remains Uruguayan Under-20 international Guillermo Varela.

Since two unsuccessful bids have been made for Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, with United mulling over a third attempt for a player who appears relatively content at a club he fought tooth and nail to return to in 2011.

During this time, Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman sealed his €18m (Dh86.7m) transfer to Roma, Paris Saint-Germain paid a rather inflated €32m (Dh155.8m) for Brazilian teenage centre-back/defensive midfielder Marquinhos and also tempted France’s future left-back Lucas Digne away from Lille for €15m (Dh73m).

None of these may have been targets of United but it’s difficult to argue that they wouldn’t have enhanced a squad which won one of the poorest Premier Leagues in recent years.

When you also consider last season’s runners-up Manchester City bolstered their talent pool with Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic and Tottenham have juggled Gareth Bale potentially leaving by bringing in Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado, it begs the question: just how urgent is this transfer business?

The Community Shield is five days away and there is the distinct possibility United will take to the field with the same group of players they finished last season with.

There is nothing wrong with that in theory, continuity is an all-too rare occurrence in football. But United’s desire for fresh blood is not only well known (because manager David Moyes has said so) but desperately needed.

United deficiencies are glaringly obvious: a lack of midfield creativity, particularly from deep, and Patrice Evra’s batteries at left-back slowly starting to drain. It is therefore no great surprise that the three players we know United have bid for this summer are two central midfielders and a left-back: Thiago Alcantara, Fabregas and Leighton Baines.

Any United fan would be delighted to see this trio arrive at Old Trafford yet Thiago chose Bayern Munich, Fabregas looks unlikely and the Baines link has gone quiet, while at 28, €20m (Dh97.4m) for a left-back is more than a little steep.

Missing out on one target is understandable, but three failures call into question the validity of the pursuit in the first place. And while strategically imperative, a signing is also becoming desperately required as individuals.

Moyes does not want to be kicking off the new season still worrying about what’s missing, especially when his rivals have proactively tried to correct their own faults.

United have missed out on players in the past – Alan Shearer, Ronaldinho and Wesley Sneijder among them – but who was anyone to question Sir Alex Ferguson?

Moyes does not have that luxury and while he will be given a degree of time to mould this team in his own image, supporters are getting fidgety. The remaining three and a half weeks of the window are now a matter of genuine urgency.

 

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