Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen says he advised the Premier League champions to sign Willian while he was managing the star at Anzhi Makhachkala, before the Brazilian secured a move to Chelsea.
Willian has been the subject of much transfer talk over the past few weeks, having come painstakingly close to confirming a move to Tottenham, a deal which was scupperdd by the Blues.
The 25 year old worked with Meulensteen during the manager's 16 days in charge at Anzhi after he was let go by incoming United manager David Moyes in favour of a new backroom team.
And as United continue to be rebuffed in their summer pursuits - with Mesut Ozil the latest player to reject a move to Old Trafford this summer after his decision to stay at Real Madrid - Meulensteen claims that he was attempting to make David Moyes aware of Willian at the beginning of the summer.
"It was good for my experience and contacts," he told the Telegraph when asked about his short time at Anzhi. "Obviously the money was good.
"There were good players like Willian, a player who can make a difference, a player that people come to the stadium to watch. A good character too. I made United aware of him straight away when things were going belly-up [at Anzhi].
"'Have a look at him,' I told them. At the top level you need to refresh at the right time."
Meulensteen, who admitted he would have liked to have stayed at United and continued to work under Moyes, hinted at the importance of United continuing to build on their squad, despite having won the title last season.
He used the example of when Sir Alex Ferguson purchased Robin van Persie, who took the side from losing the title in the last game of the season to Manchester City to convincingly beating the side in the following season, as evidence that the club need to strengthen this summer.
"We were really lacking that quality, that powerhouse up front, bringing others into play," he explained. "If he hadn't come we would not have won the Premier League.''
United now have less than a week left to complete their signings and Moyes insists that the side are working hard to land their desired targets in time for the end of the window.
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