Manchester United Transfers: Were Ronaldo, Other Signings Already Lined Up?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The truth of the matter is that Moyes went on holiday for three weeks on 29 May and does not return until 19 June.
So any suggestion that Guillermo Varela is his first signing may be a little wide of the mark, especially as the Uruguayan was on trial at Old Trafford at the end of last season, according to the Mirror.
Nevertheless, it is equally unlikely that United would have ploughed ahead with a signing without at least keeping Moyes in the loop. Unless, of course, the contract was all but signed, sealed and delivered before Sir Alex Ferguson even retired.
And that is a moot point, because while it would be a courtesy for United to give a detailed insight into the players they are releasing and the graduates to whom they are offering a contract, Moyes cannot possibly have watched the Under 21s and Academy players last season and may have had to take those recommendations on trust.
It is important to remember that United usually like to tie up their summer transfer business as early as possible. Phil Jones and David de Gea were cases in point.
And while some might point to Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie as being "deadline" signings, those were because the selling clubs played hardball until the last minute.
So if you consider the rumours that have been longest and strongest, you may already have an insight into who is likely to arrive at Old Trafford soon after Moyes returns from holiday.
Gareth Bale will not be one of them.
So who might we expect, and who—if anyone—will Moyes pick himself?
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Strong rumours that Strootman would join United have been around for more than a year. Indeed, he was supposed to sign after Euro 2012, according to the Mirror.
And there have been plenty of suggestions that a move was imminent from other sources. Indeed, if you search Google for "Kevin Strootman Manchester United," you may get over 2,000 results.
It won't take Moyes long to decide that United's midfield is the most pressing need for strengthening. According to the Daily Star, Moyes had coveted Strootman while at Everton, so if this one is just waiting for Strootman to sign on the dotted line, the new manager is unlikely to disagree.
Strootman is a favourite to be his first "proper" new signing, but he was also first lined up under Sir Alex's tenure.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Garay is another hot favourite to be signed by Moyes. Like Strootman, he is also in a race to be his "first signing," according to International Business Times.
Again, Garay had been touted by the media well back into Sir Alex's reign. In December 2012, he was strongly linked after Sir Alex's brother and then-chief scout Martin Ferguson watched the Benfica player "several times."
Some might ask why United need another central defender. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Michael Keane have all been retained while Tom Thorpe and Scott Wootton have been offered new contracts.
The decision may hinge on the prognosis for Vidic. He was recovering from a long-term injury last season and did not seem able to play every match in the second half of the schedule. Ferdinand has been given a new one-year contract but will surely retire next summer.
Jones is "Mr. Versatile," and Smalling has been suspect on the injury front. Even Evans had his share of injuries last season. In the season before last, United had to field Michael Carrick at centre-back, as they ran out of options.
So an international-class defender able to play every match may be a no-brainer, and Garay's name keeps on cropping up.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
What we must keep in mind here is that David Gill also doesn't officially finish at Old Trafford until 30 June, and with Ed Woodward having already started in the role, Gill has been freed up to try to execute some transfer business.
While plenty of people speculate as to how United could possibly afford Ronaldo, there are also people who seriously think that Gareth Bale might come to Old Trafford.
Bale would cost more, so he isn't coming. For starters, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy probably doesn't want to sell anyone ever again to United after the Berbatov saga. And he sure as hell won't sell Bale to a Champions League contender.
But Ronaldo is different. His heart is at Old Trafford, as the Champions League match showed (above). According to the Daily Express, he has put his villa up for sale. He doesn't appear at all happy at the Bernabeu.
While Sir Alex's retirement makes things more problematic, Gill will at least be a part of the Old Trafford hierarchy and, as a free agent himself, has more than enough time to meet with and woo Ronaldo.
Moyes would surely not reject the chance to be handed the second-best player in the world on a plate.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Lewandowski is one of the hottest properties around, and whatever their misgivings, surely Borussia Dortmund would rather sell him than let him run down the last year of his contract.
Of course, Moyes has to resolve the Rooney situation, but if Sir Alex has apprised his protege of some of the ex-Evertonian's fitness issues, combined with the fact that he has now twice asked for a transfer, Moyes may decide to take the money, especially if a team like Paris Saint-Germain bids £40 million.
For not much more than half of that, Moyes could get a player who is three years younger, a better team man and a more reliable finisher than even Rooney.
And now that, according to The Independent (h/t Bild newspaper), Dortmund have refused to sell Lewandowski to Bayern Munich, United would be the favourites to sign him if Lewandowski had an assurance that Rooney was not being retained.
Once again, this would be a transfer saga that started many months before Sir Alex's retirement, and as with Strootman, there may also already have been an exploratory approach.
Surely, he only needs to look at Robin van Persie to make his mind up.
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
It has been no secret that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign Modric while he was at Spurs, but Daniel Levy was never going to sell to United.
In fact, it may be that they would have got a better price than Real Madrid paid if he had gone to Old Trafford.
But just as Levy found a way to get Zeki Fryers via Standard Liege, United might get Modric via Real Madrid.
It seems likely that the latter will have a clear-out of players in preparation for more stellar signings next season, and names like Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe and Angel di Maria have already been mentioned as possible leavers.
Sir Alex's name has been linked with Modric for at least two and a half years. What one has to keep in mind is that most, if not all, of the players being mentioned here, and with whom Sir Alex has been linked for months or even years, would not have moved to Moyes at Everton.
Now there is United's clout and Sir Alex's long-term interest and pervasive influence.
If Modric won't come, the Daily Mail reports that Cesc Fabregas may.
Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini
Stu Forster/Getty Images
By now, you are probably asking two questions:
"How on earth can United afford all these players?" and, "Isn't David Moyes allowed to choose some of his own signings?"
First, who among these first five is Moyes going to turn down? He's inheriting a Premier League-winning team, even without Paul Scholes. If he was offered these additional crown jewels, plus the up-and-coming talent from United's youth, he's hardly likely to say no.
Of course, there would need to be some players leaving through the exit.
Surely, those four would be worth a collective £80 million. With Moyes already rumoured to have a transfer kitty of £60 million, according to the Mirror, on top of any sales proceeds, that would give him £140 million.
Strootman at £17 million, Garay £17 million, Lewandowski £24 million, Modric or Fabregas £24 million and Baines £12 million adds up to £94 million, which still leaves £46 million to put towards Ronaldo's fee with Nike and Chevrolet being asked to make up the difference.
With Ronaldo's contract already running down and United possibly able to do a deal for as little as £65 million, there seems to be no reason why all of these transfers couldn't happen.
Moyes' own men
By definition, they would all become "Moyes' men" as soon as they arrive, but how can he put his own stamp on the incoming business.
Apart from approving the above signings, Fabregas' name has only been mentioned since Sir Alex retired. He would be a more than adequate alternative to Modric.
And it may be fair to suggest that Leighton Baines would not leave Everton if Moyes was still there. So loyalty to Moyes may have some value.
In fact, while Bill Kenwright has insisted that Moyes could only get Fellaini because of his buy-out clause and that Baines is staying, according to the Manchester Evening News, both could follow their former manager for the right price.
Some might argue that if United sign Strootman and either Modric or Fabregas, they don't need Fellaini. I am one of those who is unsure whether the latter is a "Manchester United player" anyhow.
The media is already mumbling that Moyes is being left behind in the transfer stakes, but if what we are intimating here is true, much of the business may already be in play, sanctioned by Moyes before he left for holiday.
And it would really be no surprise if he and his "mentor," Sir Alex, were in agreement about who would enhance a title-winning side and fill the gaps left by Scholes, Rooney, Evra and Nani right now, as well as the gaps left by Ferdinand, Vidic, Giggs and Carrick in the future.
So maybe the biggest contribution the former Everton manager can bring, apart from Baines to replace Evra, is the development of the undoubtedly burgeoning young talent emerging from Carrington, including the Premier League Under 21 title-winning side.