Manchester United hero Rio Ferdinand has dished out a stern message to transfer chief John Murtough over the potential signing of Declan Rice.
The prospect of luring in the West Ham midfielder during the summer has excited Red Devils fans, but Ferdinand has shared a dimmer interpretation of events that could give his former side food for thought.
United and Rice came face-to-face on Saturday when Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner secured three points for Ralf Rangnick’s side.
That moved the Red Devils up to fourth spot in the Premier League, although Arsenal and Tottenham have games in hand to catch up in a tight race for Champions League football.
Despite his solid managerial reputation, Rangnick has failed to inspire an immediate turnaround since his interim appointment in November.
And with the club’s lofty ambitions at the start of the campaign watered down to a chase for fourth spot, plenty of United fans have held out hope that even more strength can be added to their squad in the summer.
Rice is a name who has been linked with Old Trafford for some time, and despite his performances kicking up another notch this season, Ferdinand has urged fans to curb their expectations.
“I don’t think it matters what individuals Man Utd bring in,” he told Vibe with Five.
“It’s been proven over a long period of time now that you can bring in your superstars and think this is a saving grace.
“It’s about the way the team is built, and the way the tactics are implemented.
I think you need a style of football, you need tactics put in place, and an identity put in place, which we’ve been calling for for ages, that the players can all identify with, and then you go forward with it.
“Until that point, it’s just playing off the cuff, you’re just thinking, ‘oh he’s going to win you a game’.
“Bruno [Fernandes] has done it for the last couple of years, when Bruno shows up and produces a moment it’s, ‘oh we’ve won the game’.
“The best teams on the planet don’t win things through individuals. They win it because the team plays the best, but they might have an individual within that able to produce the magic here or there.
“Until that system is put in place, I don’t care who we sign.”
With his interim touchline tenure set to transition to a consultancy role at the end of the season, Rangnick himself could play an important role in the system referred to by Ferdinand.
January has not been a month of radical change, with Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek looking the most likely to depart and little talk of arrivals to take their places.
But they could see a significant reshuffle in the summer, with Paul Pogba set to leave for free, Rangnick due to make way as manager and an approach for Rice and a number of other targets expected.