Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the hierarchy realise the need to boost the team and were intent on bringing in at least one signing, particularly a midfielder, but the situations have meant they may well end January without any new names.
A deal for Fernandes is at an impasse, with a huge difference between the two clubs’ valuation of the player. Some sources say there is a gap of up to £20m, and currently no sign of either side budging.
Both are seen as impossible in January, and it is understood that an initial inquiry about Grealish was rebuffed. Staying up is ultimately worth far more to Villa than any one-off fee.
This has guided the thinking on United’s January pursuits and, while they would still like to sign Fernandes at the right price, they don’t want any purchase now to affect summer business.
The pursuit of a striker has been even more complicated. Solskjaer wants to bring a player in after Marcus Rashford’s injury.
The Independent has been told that there was initial contact with Edinson Cavani and his camp, but that he prefers a move to Atletico Madrid.
Another option is AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek, but United would not be interested in a full purchase, as the Serie A club attempt to raise funds through the Polish international’s sale with Chelsea an option.