David Moyes wants to add three midfielders to Manchester United before the close of the transfer window on Monday and has had bids of €30m (£25.6m) for Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera and €12m for Roma's Daniele De Rossi turned down. The manager is still intent on signing Marouane Fellaini from Everton, who was the subject of a rejected joint £36m offer for him and Leighton Baines earlier this week.
With Herrera a central playmaker, De Rossi a defensive midfielder and Fellaini able to offer a more attacking option, all three would give Moyes something different. The Scot has identified the trio as he attempts to overhaul an area of the squad where only Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick are established first-team players.
Herrera became a target once the pursuit of Cesc Fábregas foundered and the Bilbao president, Josu Urrutia, was quoted on the club's Twitter feed as saying: "We have had an offer for Ander Herrera. Our club is different, it is based on sentiment. Our objective isn't to make money. We received the offer last night [Thursday] and have communicated that we will not negotiate for our players. For a player to go, first the player must express his desire to leave the club and pay the release clause."
Herrera's contract at Bilbao ends in 2016 but has a release clause of €36m so United may have to return with this offer before the close of the window to sign him.
Regarding De Rossi it is understood that United have gone to the lengths of asking the former England coach, Fabio Capello, who was the Italian's manager at Roma, about his abilities. Rossi, 30, can play as a defensive midfielder or even as an auxiliary centre-back, as he has done for Italy.
While Rossi was open to considering a move to United at the end of last season, after discussions with Rudi Garcia, the new manager, he is now minded to stay.
Moyes refused to be drawn about his targets, saying: "I don't think there's anything else to add." Regarding Herrera he said: "I wouldn't disclose any names, just let the clubs deal with it and we'll try and do it in a professional manner. I don't know how busy it's going to be but it's a busy football market. It might be busy in the next few days and I hope we do a little bit of business but I couldn't guarantee that."
Moyes, who takes United to Liverpool on Sunday for the first time, never won there in the league during 11 years as Everton manager. He said: "It was down to Liverpool having really good teams with people like Xabi Alonso, [Javier] Mascherano, [Fernando] Torres at his pomp, Steven Gerrard – they had really good teams at that time and were one of the teams that went on to win the European Cup. That's why it was very difficult to win regular games at Anfield because of the quality of the side they had."
What would victory there mean? "Just the same as anywhere else. You can only get three points for the win," Moyes said. "But obviously it's a big win if you can get it. Liverpool will be one of the strong teams this season, so if we can win it will be a good start."
Moyes is unsure how the experience will differ to a Merseyside derby. "I don't know, because I've not been involved in one yet," he said. "But everyone tells me about the rivalry between Liverpool and United. I'm looking forward to it. It's the sort of game I came here to be involved in."
Liverpool have won their opening two league games of Brendan Rodgers' second season and Moyes added: "I think Brendan is building his team and changing things around the way he wants them to be. But Liverpool has always been a great football club, always challenging for trophies in the years gone past. So Brendan's at a great club."