Paul Scholes admits that he is “scared” about Manchester United’s future and names five players they must buy immediately to avoid further catastrophic decline.
The Old Trafford legend has revealed how he urged the club to buy Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich — and now fears the club have slipped to a level below Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League.
“I am scared for United. Genuinely scared they could go into the wilderness in the same way Liverpool did in the 1990s,” said Scholes in his column for The Independent newspaper.
“What do they need? Five players. Five proper players who can hit the ground running and turn round a situation that looks serious.”
Scholes listed his quintet: Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Raphael Varane, Angel Di Maria and Mats Hummels.
With four of those currently at Real Madrid, it would certainly be a rather large cheque for the current European champions.
An unlikely prospect too but, according to Scholes, these are the sort of players United desperately need.
“The obvious issue with Alonso for United fans would be his past with Liverpool,” said Scholes.
“So what? He has that quality United lack. He is not the quickest but then he never was. Neither is Andrea Pirlo but he can play a bit. Alonso has a superb range of passing. He can shoot, too.”
Of Khedira, Scholes said: “This is a footballer with confidence. His passing is more limited than Alonso but he has great qualities. And it seems as if he is available.”
And Di Maria? “I feel £50m is a lot but he has something that Old Trafford has lacked of late. He would bring that excitement,” said Scholes.
“When United play at home, they need to have players who have the pace and ability to go past opponents and lift the crowd.
“Today you look around the squad and ask who will give United that impetus at home. Adnan Januzaj? There are not many others.”
With regard to the two defenders: “I like Varane, and I feel his chances might be limited again this season at Madrid.
“Hummels has said many times that he is committed to Borussia Dortmund, but he has the sort of experience that United need in defence.
“Watching them on Saturday, I was struck that every time Swansea were in United’s half it looked like they could score.”
United, meanwhile, have completed the signing of Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon with Nani heading in the opposite direction on a season-long loan.
The Argentina international will cost £15.98million and moves to Old Trafford on a five-year deal.
Rojo is equally comfortable at centre-back as he is at left-back and played all 120 minutes of the World Cup final as Argentina lost to Germany after extra-time.
The 24-year-old began his career in his homeland with Estudiantes de la Plata and spent a single season with Spartak Moscow before moving to Sporting in 2012.
He cannot wait to play his part in Louis van Gaal's new era at United.
“It is such an honour to say that I now play for Manchester United,” he said. “The Premier League is the most exciting league in the world and to have the chance to play in it for the world's biggest club is a dream come true for me.
“I spoke with Juan Sebastian Veron about Manchester United when we were at Estudiantes. I have always liked English football, and I should adapt to this new playing style easily.”
United's move for Rojo had been complicated by a row between Sporting and a third-party ownership group, while the player upset his employers by initially refusing to train in a bid to push through the deal, although he later apologised and returned to work.
“There was a misunderstanding, I never wanted to do something wrong at Sporting as I have always been very thankful to that team that gave me many chances for playing in Europe,” Rojo added.