Manchester United need a big-name signing but cannot afford Cristiano Ronaldo, according to manager Louis van Gaal.
Ronaldo, 30, has been linked with a return to Old Trafford as reports of a rift with new Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez persist.
Van Gaal would like to see United make a huge signing, having added the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian.
To compete with Europe’s and the Premier League’s best, Van Gaal said United needed a big name.
“Chelsea have Eden Hazard, he can always make goals,” he said.
“Manchester City have [Sergio] Aguero, it’s the same type. Barcelona have Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. We, as Manchester United, have to compete with these clubs. So we have to look also for these kind of players.
“When it is possible to buy, for a reasonable price, players from that level, we shall do that, because they are better.
“So I think with Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian, we are better than last year.
“But we have to be much better and we can use much more creativity.
“And so we have to compare. Ashley Young had a fantastic season last time, but he is not a Neymar, and we have to compete with that kind of class.”
Ronaldo, who was successful at United from 2003 to 2009 before his move to Real, would be a massive signing.
But Van Gaal said it was impossible for United to buy the 120-time Portugal international and arguably the world’s best player.
“Yeah, of course. But that’s not possible,” he said.
“Why not? Because you have the club [Real], Ronaldo and then you have Manchester United and how much Manchester United want to spend.”