Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has spoken bullishly to The Guardian about his club's financial power in the transfer market, insisting Louis van Gaal is allowed to break the transfer record set by Gareth Bale last season, if necessary.
Tottenham Hotspur sold the Welsh forward to Real Madrid for approximately £85 million this time last year, and Woodward is talking about the capability of spending more, and los Blancos have again set the standard for aggressively pursuing the targets they want.
With James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos signed, sealed and presented at the Santiago Bernabeu, Manchester United appear to be itching to match the financial clout on show. "We are the biggest club in the world," Woodward stated in the interview.
How would a free-spending United model operate?
The Mistake of Admission
First and foremost, it's rarely a good idea to admit you're willing to spend and have huge reserves of cash. There's bravado and reputation in the market, but there are also things you just don't say publicly.
The admission of riches leads to overpriced acquisitions and tough conversations. Tottenham Hotspur paid an extra 10-15 percent on each and every one of their players last summer because clubs knew they were receiving a tonne of cash for Bale.
Vlad Chiriches, a relatively unknown Romanian player, cost €9.5 million from Steaua Bucharest. He's a good player, but when has a Liga I defender ever transferred for that much?
With Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw already secured for a total of around £60 million—a sizable sum!—clubs could be forgiven for thinking the Red Devils weren't looking to make too much more of a splash.
Woodward has inadvisably seen to that notion.
£90 Million Players
Woodward's statement suggests a big-name player is still on the radar, but who is worth spending an entire £90 million?
The pool of options is shallow, in truth, with perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Manuel Neuer, Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal the prime candidates to attract the most amount of money.
Neuer and Vidal wouldn't fly for that much, Ronaldo is 29 years of age and Pogba won't go back to Old Trafford, leaving the unattainable Messi and Chelsea's prized jewel Hazard.
Even if Woodward and Van Gaal wanted to spent £90 million on a single player, the only two or three worth it won't join.
A Wiser Use
It leaves United in the same position as before: Likely to spend another £60-80 million on another two world-class acquisitions, then happy to pick up a few extras if they're going cheap.
Thomas Vermaelen could be a wise acquisition for the club, considering the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but The Daily Star reckon the Belgian could cost £10 million.
With a year left on his deal and a departure seeming inevitable—plus the injury concerns over the last two years and the fact he joined for £8 million—the price quote seems a little...pricey.
A successful window from this point on could represent Vidal and Juan Cuadrado, plus a central defender if one pops up for the right price.
That's the only reasonable route to take on paper, and if Woodward makes his "splash" it will likely come in the form of a forced, overpriced deal.