Manchester United chiefs believe the club are in need of a minimum of six signings if they are to catch up to Liverpool and Manchester City, according to reports.
The Red Devils take on arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford this Sunday (4.30pm) trailing them by 15 points after just eight matches.
Last season, United finished 32 points behind Premier League champions Manchester City and 31 off of runners-up Liverpool.
The 20-time top-flight winners’ standards have slipped dramatically over the last seven years, since iconic manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The Scot led United to 38 trophies in 26 years, including 13 league titles, but the club have only finished second once in the seven seasons since his exit, when even then they finished 19 points behind City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the man currently tasked with restoring United to their former glories, having played for 11 years under Ferguson, though he has hit some speed bumps.
United have won just two of their eight league games so far despite spending over £140million in the summer window on Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.
But according to The Athletic, there is an acceptance within the club’s boardroom that United need another six fresh faces – at least – to truly compete for England’s biggest prize.
Solskjaer is set to be backed in January despite their poor form, with the club’s hierarchy convinced the former striker is still the right man for the job.
And it appears Mario Mandzukic is a key target, with the out-of-favour Juventus striker having also been linked to the club in the summer.
The 33-year-old Croatian has yet to make an appearance for Juve under new boss Maurizio Sarri this season and is not in the Italian champions’ 22-man Champions League squad.
ESPN report that United are unwilling to overpay for Solskjaer’s targets, however, and that Mandzukic will need to lower his wage demands to seal a move.
The former Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid forward may well be willing to do so given his plight in Turin, where has been cast out of the squad.
It has been suggested it could take a fee of around £9million for United to secure Mandzukic’s arrival.
Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is another player regularly linked to Old Trafford as United seek to bolster their front line, with only Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as senior strikers after the summer departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, Leicester play-maker James Maddison, Aston Villa star John McGinn, Declan Rice of West Ham and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic are others ESPN claim United are watching.
United are said to believe, however, that deals for most of those players will be too difficult to conduct until the summer.