Manchester United spent a lot of money during the summer transfer window this year. They took arguably the biggest risk of the entire summer, paying an upfront £36 million for Anthony Martial, a still-green forward from AS Monaco. They spent £24.6 million on Memphis Depay, a Dutch standout who helped PSV Eindhoven win the Eredivisie title last season. They spent £24 million upfront on Morgan Schneiderlin, an established defensive midfielder with a record of success at Southampton. The spent an estimated £12.7 million on Matteo Darmian in a move to flesh out their defense. And they spent £6.56 million on Bastian Schweinsteiger, a veteran midfielder fresh of a 13-year stint at Bayern Munich.

Unfortunately, all of that spending hasn't converted to dominance for Manchester United. While the football club could hardly be said to be doing poorly so far in their 2015 2016 campaign, they certainly haven't returned yet to the lofty heights of the Alex Ferguson era. Louis van Gaal is still largely respected as the club's manager, and the Red Devils are still expected to contend for a top-three finish in the 2015 2016 Premier League, but suffice to say that things could be going better at Old Trafford. United's elimination from the group stage of the UEFA Champions League-following a tough game six loss to Wolfsburg-is concrete proof of that fact.

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The Winter Transfer Window

Louis van Gaal, undoubtedly, will look to make things better for this soccer squad in January, when the transfer window opens back up. Of course, some pundits will question whether or not spending money and buying new players is even a sound solution to Man United's problem at this point. Depay has underperformed and Martial, while a promising signing to be sure, has failed to show the match-to-match consistency demanded of a center forward. After Angel di Maria's disastrous move to Old Trafford last year, could it be that new transfers just have a difficult time integrating into England's richest football club?

Still, with the Champions League elimination fresh in his mind, Louis van Gaal will likely be feeling pressure to bring in at least one or two big names during the winter transfer window. The question is, who will he be making offers to sign?

At least one big name seems out of the running: Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid celebrity and reigning Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a return to Old Trafford several times as of late, first last summer, and again more recently as rumors about his supposed discontent with Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez have gotten louder.

However, in the wake of Real Madrid's 8-0 victory over Malmo FF in the closing match of their Champions League group stage campaign, Ronaldo put those rumors to rest: "Real Madrid have helped me greatly since I arrived," he said. "I am very happy here. I have a contract with Real and I will stay." (Ronaldo's contract with the Vikings now goes until 2018.)

With that dream signing off the table, Louis van Gaal is reportedly going after another high-profile target: FC Barcelona's Neymar. Rumors say that Van Gaal is preparing a £143.9 million bid for Neymar-a transfer fee that would surpass the current all-time record (Gareth Bale's £85.3 million move to Real Madrid) by £58.6 million. Barcelona probably won't want to sell the player who kept them afloat during Lionel Messi's injury spell this fall (and subsequently earned a spot among the top three Ballon d'Or finalist), but they'd at least have to think about it with a transfer fee offer like that.

Since the start of December, Manchester United have also been rumored to be preparing bids for other heavyweights, including Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane, Paris Saint Germain's Edinson Cavani, and Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. All three would be a stretch, considering they are the lynchpins of their current teams' lineups. Youngsters like Juan Familia-Castillo (a 15-year-old winger at Ajax) and Breel Embolo (an 18-year-old striker at FC Basel) would be more likely to make moves to Old Trafford in January.

Who would you like to see don the Manchester United shirt for the first time this winter? Share your thoughts with Soccer Box on social media! You can find us on multiple platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.