A former Manchester United assistant manager has speculated that the current boss will keep his options open over summer transfer targets.
Eleven points adrift in the race for fourth place in the Premier League and discounted from Champions League title contention by a former three-time winner Graeme Souness, there seems an air of inevitability to Manchester United finishing the season without a passage into Europe's premier club competition next season.
A former assistant manager at Stretford, Mike Phelan, believes Manchester United will currently be transfer planning for two scenarios. In the event they qualify for the Champions League again, they will pursue their elite targets… players who are coveted by a collection of the world's top clubs and footballers capable of performing on the highest stages.
However, should United finish outside of the top four, then a number of alternatives will have to be identified. The aforementioned elite would presumably want to compete in Europe, meaning United's strategy in the transfer market will either have to focus on young talent, or calculated gambles.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Phelan said: 'You are always going to be in competition with other football clubs for big players, whether you’re in Europe or not.
'The big players want to go to the big football clubs and Manchester United certainly is one of those. It might turn into a situation where David Moyes has two shopping lists. He'll have one for being in Europe and one for not.
'The attraction to play for Manchester United will still be there though. They’re making the sign that they’ll plough money into the market this summer and pay big salaries, so it’s an interesting time.'
Since the closure of the mid-season transfer window, United have been linked to Barcelona midfielder Alexandre Song, Juventus star Martin Caceres, Tottenham Hotspur's Moussa Dembele, Sporting Lisbon's talent William Carvalho and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
image: © Iris Chase