A three-times Champions League-winner, a Manchester City reject, playing non-league football - and a Championship defender who thought he was on his way to Plymouth - Louis van Gaal’s first January transfer window at Old Trafford has been bizarre.
But it has also paved the way for another summer of massive spending for the Manchester United manager.
Van Gaal had long-since accepted that his major targets would be unavailable during the mid-season window.
In truth, the arrivals of Salford City’s Sadiq El Fitouri and unknown Bolton youngster Andy Kellett were more than the Dutchman had anticipated.
Meanwhile, the free transfer of former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes was considered a ‘no-brainer’ after the Spaniard headed to United to complete his recovery from cruciate ligament damage.
Notably Van Gaal did not dip into his summer budget, which will be as much as £150m. And the departures of big-earners Anderson and Darren Fletcher, cleared the way for the high-profile targets on his wanted list.
United will move for Gareth Bale and Mats Hummels at the end of the season - and will monitor Kevin Strootman, following the Dutch midfielder’s latest injury setback.
Paul Pogba is another player they would like to bring to Old Trafford - but know Real Madrid are leading the hunt for Juventus’ French international.
Van Gaal has so far distanced himself from the messages being relayed by high-level United sources that they are ready to repeat the outrageous spending of his first summer at the club. But he knows his squad is still short of the quality to genuinely challenge Chelsea and City.
After splashing out £150m on star names Angel di Maria, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Radamel Falcao - United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has vowed to make more funds available as he attempts to emulate Real’s Galactico transfer policy.
That was very much in mind as United resisted the temptation to make a major splash in January.
Van Gaal is focused on the long-term. His end of season shopping list is already well on the way to being formulated.
Paris St Germain defender Marquinhos is another player on his radar, while Nathaniel Clyne and Séamus Coleman are potential replacements for Rafael.
Van Gaal was determined to avoid a quick fix in January - ruling out a move for Aston Villa‘s Ron Vlaar.
He is confident his current squad is strong enough to secure his minimum requirement of Champions League football. The bigger challenge comes next season when he is expected to return United to the summit of English football and re-establish themselves among the giants of European football.
It is highly unlikely El Fitouri or Kellett will figure strongly in those plans.