Ever summer, every fall, United fans like you and I wonder and whine aloud why Sir Alex Ferguson hasn't bought any number of attractive players on the transfer market.
Each time, ultimately, we are assuaged and affirmed by the old gaffer, claiming a complete squad is the reason for inactivity, not fiscal restrictions from up in the ivory tower.
On form, the 26-year-old Dutch dynamo is one of the most creative left-footed attackers in Europe, and he is already in resplendent form (he needed no time to "adapt" to the Premier League, a rationalization reserved for less-focused players fumbling through the transition).
Sure, his form will vary and go down—presumably, but his mean should prove much higher than two players United have struggled to replace: their mid-30s stars, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
On the wing, "Vaartman" is far quicker than Giggs, with much more pace and a far better strike. In the middle, his movement, passing, and vision rivals Scholes, being more like the ginger prince at the turn of the century, not 10 years since. Van der Vaart is younger, fitter, and has more gas than either.
He may not fit perfectly in a two-striker system, but his worth on the wing for United, or filling in as a second striker, would have arguably fixed two of the Manchester side's most impending problems with one player (it also would have helped plug the gap left when United have to sell Rooney this summer).
There were no reasons they wouldn't have wanted van der Vaart, especially at such a low price. United have sold most of their best players to Madrid, so there is a clear relationship. Real were desperate to off-load players players that didn't fit Jose Mourinho's vainly projected image.
These factors, and the Special One's sycophantic affection for Sir Alex, insures that roaming texts and calls were relayed between the two superclubs at some point before Tottenham's last-minute grab.
Ferguson has a history of buying and selling, but since Ronaldo's departure two years ago, his hand has been forced out of the transfer kitty (that's why John O'Shea, Michael Carrick, and Federico Macheda are starting in the Premier League).
The United gaffer may be forced to recite the company line, claiming that money is plentiful, and his recent, uncharacteristic miserliness in the transfer market is by choice. But we all know he'd have fancied van der Vaart, alas, just as he fancied Adam Johnson.
It was a lack of money—not desire—that decided glaring inaction, thereby providing more persuasive evidence of it's dearth.