Manchester United raised a few eyebrows when they decided to officially pull out of the race for Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne, effectively allowing Liverpool to sign him.
At the time the most logical assumption seemed to be that the Red Devils were confident of landing Daniel Alves, who seemed to be on his way out of Barcelona.
However, the Brazilian went on to reportedly reject United’s overtures earlier this month, deciding instead to sign a new deal keeping at Camp Nou until 2017.
Nonetheless United’s pursuit of a player on stratospheric wages and the wrong side of 30 never seemed like the most plausible of reasons to turn their backs on up and coming Clyne.
The real cause may have been lurking in the wings the entire time thanks to the judicious transfer dealings of one David Moyes.
Moyes made 20 year-old Guillermo Varela the first signing of his short and troubled time at the club after the young full-back impressed for Uruguay in qualification for the Under-20 World Cup.
Having been signed before even making his first-team breakthrough at Penarol in his native land, Varela spent 2013/14 with the club’s Under-21s, where more plaudits were forthcoming.
Then came a move right out of leftfield, with the right-back going out on a season’s loan to Real Madrid’s B side, where he amassed 33 games of experience in 2014/15.
It was a switch that had come at the request of nothing short of footballing royalty, Zinedine Zidane, who had just become coach of the Castilla side.
‘I asked to see him and loved him,’ said the World Cup winner.
‘Luckily we could add him to Real Madrid, where I see a huge future.’
Despite Zidane’s professed intentions, Varela has returned to Old Trafford where he has three seasons left on his contract.
With Rafael seemingly persona non grata under Van Gaal, only Antonio Valencia stands between the Uruguayan and a place in the first team.