Paul Scholes believes five top-class signings are needed to halt the "desperate" situation at Manchester United: Angel Di Maria, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels, Xabi Alonso and Raphael Varane.
The former Red Devils midfielder, who hasn't held his criticism back since going into the world of punditry, believes the club must spend significantly across the transfer window's remaining 11 days.
My five would be: Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Raphael Varane, Angel Di Maria and Mats Hummels. It would be one very big cheque for Real Madrid, given that four of them would come from that club. It would be hard to land them all. But that is the level that United need at this stage of the transfer window.
United were busy confirming the signing of Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo on Wednesday, as reported by BBC Sport, but Scholes suggests he doesn't know enough about the player to judge him.
"I have not seen a lot of Marcos Rojo. He may fit the bill," said the Englishman, per The Independent.
Louis van Gaal is certainly more sure of the Argentinian, per Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News:
Van Gaal “Marcos is a very gifted defender. He has played at the highest level in world football and can play central defender or left back.— Stuart Mathieson (@StuMathiesonMEN) August 20, 2014
Di Maria and Khedira are perhaps the most likely potential signings of the quintet Scholes outlined.
As reported by Sunni Upal of the Daily Mail, the former is likely to be used to drum up vital funds after Real Madrid's signing of James Rodriguez. Di Maria would inject pace, energy and confidence into the United lineup and can play on either wing or in midfield. He is an expensive option at the reported fee of £50 million but would bring pedigree to the side.
It is strange to rarely see United linked with Khedira. The German midfielder offers everything the club needs in defensive midfield, where he can excellently shield the defence before moving forward to attack.
Scholes notes the player's "energy and experience" would be key in a currently lightweight midfield that was easily overrun during the recent loss to Swansea.
Khedira is said to be available for as little as £12 million, according to Metro. United would be foolish to let this bargain price slip by, especially as the World Cup-winning midfielder offers a ready-made remedy to central problems that have plagued the side's performances for years.
Scholes' suggestion that Alonso could leave now that Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are at the club appears slightly misjudged.
The Spanish midfielder is key to the balance of Carlo Ancelotti's side and allows Modric to exert his creative talents further forward. Alonso's passing would certainly offer United a calming presence, but he would only be a temporary solution at the age of 32. United would still need a box-to-box destroyer alongside the former Liverpool man.
Varane could certainly be worth a shot in defence, as his opportunities are likely to be limited at the Bernabeu this season. The Frenchman's turn of pace and agility would allow him to dominate in Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formation that appeared so vulnerable against the Swans.
The majority of fans would rather see Hummels brought in, but this seems difficult after the Borussia Dortmund defender was recently named captain at the Westfalenstadion, per Ed Malyon of the Mirror.
Hummels is the type of leader needed now that Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have departed. He is able to organise, command teammates on the pitch and is powerful enough to slot right in against the best. Players such as Phil Jones could learn plenty from Hummels, who continues to deliver on the potential shown since a young age.
Scholes' main fear stems from United's inability to outline targets who can immediately improve the club's fortunes. Supporters are also likely to feel club officials are overlooking the seriousness of a situation that could see United without success for many years to come.
Blind faith is quickly subsiding for the realisation that the club stands on the brink of making seventh place a regular Premier League finishing spot.
Which player do Manchester United need most?
"I am scared for United. Genuinely scared that they could go into the wilderness in the same way that Liverpool did in the 1990s," said Scholes.
Unlike Brendan Rodgers' side, United are yet to bring in significant numbers to improve upon last season's showing.
One of the most worrying aspects Scholes' discussion raises is a lack of urgency from United. Players such as Di Maria and Khedira appear available and can quickly take up position within the side.
It was extremely disappointing to see the bare-bones lineup offered against Swansea, but the board appears happy to plod along as if results are destined to improve.
United's position within the elite of English football will quickly diminish if this isn't addressed. The upcoming 11 days rank up there with the most important in the club's recent history, because if United fail to spend, Scholes' future columns are likely to deal with failure that will have a longer lasting impact at Old Trafford.