Manchester United are prepared to back new manager David Moyes to the hilt in the summer transfer market and have not ruled out going after a “stellar player”.
The club's chief executive Ed Woodward insists the resources are there to recruit top-drawer talent and said they are “absolutely” able to compete for players in the £60million-£70million bracket.
“We haven't got money burning a hole in our pocket but we have got a strategy on player purchases and if David wants to go after a stellar player he can do that,” he said, in quotes carried by several of the national Sunday newspapers.
United have been linked with Tottenham star Gareth Bale - a player that Moyes' predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign in 2007 before he joined Spurs - and there has also been speculation regarding a sensational bid to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo, who left United for Real Madrid in 2009 for a world-record £80million fee.
The Red Devils' pursuit of playmaker Thiago Alcantara appears likely to end in defeat, with the Barcelona man now looking set to link up again with his old boss Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. United have also been strongly linked with Thiago's club-mate Cesc Fabregas and may now look to step up their interest in the former Arsenal captain, who would certainly fit the bill as a big-name recruit.
“The way we worked with Alex was he would identify the transfer targets and take them to (joint chairman) Joel (Glazer) and (former chief executive) David (Gill), who would have discussions which ended with them backing him in the transfer market every single time and we see that continuing with David Moyes,” Woodward added.
“We could have broken the transfer record in the past if we'd wanted to. Alex may not have got all the players he wanted but that was never down to not releasing funds. There's never been a cut-off price.”
United's record signing remains the 2008 acquisition of striker Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham for £30.75million.
Wayne Rooney was another player United brought in for big money, but they appear relaxed about the prospect of his contract running down as speculation continues over the England forward's future.
Moyes has been repeating his mantra about wanting Rooney to stay, albeit pointing out he will not let any single player become bigger than the club. Woodward says United are not currently giving Rooney's contract any special attention, despite the obvious risk of the 27-year-old's market value plummeting - or being wiped out altogether - over the remaining two years of his contract.
Speaking to reporters in Thailand prior to yesterday's 1-0 defeat to Singha All Stars, Woodward said: “There are no contract renewals that are being discussed. I am not sitting down with any player on an extension and there is no trigger date in the diary.
“Would we be afraid to run a contract down? Of course not.”
On Friday, Moyes showed the first signs of becoming exasperated by the Rooney saga, stating: “Unless I was speaking double Dutch last week, we said Wayne Rooney is not for sale.”
Yet, with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho managing to keep the forward's name at the forefront of people's minds and no confirmation from the player that he actually wishes to extend his nine years at United, Moyes is aware it will not go away, even though the player himself is sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring injury.
What he will not do is allow the issue to cloud everything else.
“Wayne has got a major role to play. We need to get him as many goals as we can,” Moyes said.
“Wayne can play up on his own, he can play dropped in. Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we'll need him.
“But I've also got to make sure we don't just concentrate on him. Manchester United aren't about Wayne Rooney. Manchester United are about the team, the club.
“We are talking about him now, and rightly so, but what I won't allow is Wayne to become more important than the football club and the football team.”