It's been a largely disappointing transfer window in new manager David Moyes' first season at the helm.
Entering Saturday's opening 2013-14 Premier League match against Swansea City, Manchester United have been more successful keeping players at Old Trafford (i.e. Wayne Rooney) than they have been in enticing other clubs to sell players.
Of course, that hasn't stopped Moyes and Co. from trying.
Their latest attempt to nab a marquee player has apparently taken a trip to Spain, where Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil is reportedly in contention to join the English outfit.
According to Jack De Menezes of the Independent, Los Blancos are prepared to offer Ozil to the Red Devils for a transfer fee of £40 million—a move that would allow the Spanish giants to gather more ammo toward a world-record bid of their own for Tottenham star Gareth Bale.
The report claims that the 24-year-old has become unsettled at the Bernabeu this offseason.
His club has not been shy in their pursuit of Bale and others to help new manager Carlo Ancelotti have enough talent to keep pace with La Liga rivals Barcelona, a strategy that has given Ozil enough space to ponder his own future with the club.
ESPN UK is also reporting that the current Premier League champions have made contact with Madrid about securing Ozil's services before the Sept. 2 transfer deadline.
If Manchester United could lodge a successful bid for Ozil, it would help turn what's been a disappointing start to the Moyes era around in a hurry. Needless to say, the Red Devils should take the bait if Real Madrid is really offering one of their top playmakers a chance to move to England.
The Red Devils have been very active in their pursuit of a new midfielder throughout the current transfer window, but so far, those efforts have been in vain. From Cesc Fabregas to Luka Modric, United have seen their attempts to find a creative midfielder rebuffed by opposing clubs.
As noted by Goal.com's Greg Stobart, the list of players who United were interested in yet came away empty on is reaching new heights by the day. After Barcelona turned away Moyes' latest bid for Fabregas, that number jumped to six.
Maybe No. 7 will be United's lucky number.
Ozil has been one of the better playmakers in Spain for the past three seasons. Since coming over from Werder Bremen, he has consistently given defenders problems in the attacking half and has recorded seasons of 17, 17 and 13 assists in his first three La Liga campaigns.
Last season, Ozil was one goal shy of posting double-digit goal and assist totals despite starting just 23 league matches for Jose Mourinho. He also had a goal and four assists in eight Champions League matches, helping Los Blancos reach the final four.
It helps that Ozil has been playing with one of the best goalscorers on the planet (Cristiano Ronaldo) at the Bernabeu, but United has a top striker of their own (Robin van Persie) who can also find the net rather quickly.
There's an abundance of solid evidence to suggest that the German international would thrive at Old Trafford. From Moyes' preference to find a playmaking central midfielder to the amount of talent already in place, Ozil would be walking into a great situation if he packs his bags for England.
Moyes has maintained that Rooney is not for sale. If the disgruntled striker regains his top form to flank van Persie in the United lineup, a player like Ozil will feast on opposing defenses who make the wrong choice on a run.
He's done it for the past three years with Real Madrid, and at 24, is really just coming into the prime of his career. Playing at Old Trafford would offer him a chance to start most matches, compete in the Champions League right away and help Moyes retain the EPL trophy this year.
Like many of the top clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea) in the Premier League, the Red Devils haven't done much during the current transfer window. Call it bad luck, the curse of the market or whatever excuse you deem worthy, but United can't expect to feel comfortable without some sort of reinforcement in the middle of their lineup.
Ozil would be just that.
What should Manchester United's next move be?
Although the price (£40 million) is a little high, the Red Devils have some wiggle room. As they monitor the Bale situation and play their first two matches of the new EPL season, Real Madrid could cave on that firm demand.
Bottom line—Moyes and the Red Devils need to make a splash. With Madrid as much handing Ozil to United as they are seeking the English club to provide necessary funds for his transfer, Moyes must take advantage of this opportunity.
It could be the last such opportunity before the transfer window closes in September.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.