Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward apparently wanted to sign Raphael Varane and Marco Veratti to bolster the spine of the team last year, before the club eventually moved for Fred and Diogo Dalot.
United's executive vice-chairman had earmarked Real Madrid centre-back Varane and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Verratti back in 2018 when he was still in charge of recruitment strategy at Old Trafford.
José Mourinho was manager at the time, and according to the Manchester Evening News he dismissed those names out of hand, deeming them unattainable.
Instead, the Red Devils moved from Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian midfielder Fred and Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot of Porto for a combined £72.5m in an underwhelming window. Both players have struggled for game time and form since arriving in Manchester.
Verratti shares his agent Mino Raiola with Paul Pogba, while United have a longstanding interest in boyhood supporter
Ultimately, the centre-back area wasn't reinforced until United brought in Harry Maguire a year later for a whopping £80m, a transfer that followed their worst top-flight defensive season in 40 years as they conceded 54 goals in the Premier League and finished sixth.
And even that expenditure hasn't remedied their defensive woes. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have conceded 11 goals in as many games already this season, losing four times in the process to leave them wallowing in mid-table.