Sir Alex Ferguson said yesterday he would not employ a "scattergun" approach to buying new midfield players, despite his problems being compounded by an injury which will keep Anderson out until next February.
United, without Tom Cleverley until Christmas, have sent Anderson back to Portugal to see the specialist who operated on his left knee when he ruptured the cruciate ligament in February last year – an injury which kept him out for seven months. He has been missing since he was substituted 10 minutes before the end of the home win against Otelul Galati earlier this month.
The Independent reported last month that United have an interest in Benfica's Nicolas Gaitan, the midfielder who excelled against them in the Champions League in Lisbon in September, though sources in Portugal consider it unlikely that he would sell for less than £35m. Wesley Sneijder is another possible target, though he operates in a more advanced role than the kind of midfielder United seem to be looking for. "I don't see anyone really who that can make us a better team from the players who are possibly available," said Ferguson. "I could choose two or three players that I'd like to have at this club, but they're not available so there's no point going there."
Although Gaitan's agent is Rafael Irribarren, Jorge Mendes – who brought David de Gea to Old Trafford – concluded the deal with Benfica which delivered Gaitan, 23, to Lisbon from Boca Juniors.
Ferguson also insists Chelsea remain in Premier League contention: "If you take Arsenal, they were written off and getting terrible criticism. Now everybody is saying they've a chance of winning the league again. That's what the game does."