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Manchester United line up Cristiano Ronaldo, John Stones, Gareth Bale and Neymar

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Manchester United are looking to by Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Everton's John Stones and Barcelona's Neymar.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Manchester United have clearly been briefing in the wake of their Champions League knock-out, prompting the press to run stories linking them with John Stones, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Neymar.

This is a rerun of the stories in the last two and a half years since Ed Woodward has been in charge of transfers. United have continuously been linked with players such as Ronaldo and Bale, and it appears that Woodward is keen on a superstar. He is almost as keen on signing superstars as he is being linked with them. It has long been said that he is a man who craves praise and positive attention, and he seemed to revel in the attention from the summer's splurge on six players.

However, the pressure on Woodward has increased of late with the wretched Louis van Gaal - appointed by Woodward - meaning that really he should be coming under more scrutiny for two duff appointments and years of failing in the transfer market. By deliberately playing down the chances of Pep Guardiola joining, and backing Van Gaal with yet more money and these rumours, he is implicitly backing his own judgement, and trying to distract from his failures. Expect more of these stories to come, and perhaps more activity in the winter transfer window, especially if United continue to struggle.