Manchester United have stepped up their efforts to bolster their ailing squad after they watched Diego Costa and Ander Herrera this weekend.

After tumbling out of the FA Cup to Swansea, a defeat which lurched United’s season to a new low, manager David Moyes admitted there is an 'urgency' at Old Trafford to recruit players.

He has been searching Europe for a new left back, midfielder and a striker.

The wheels had been set in motion before that stark declaration, though, as United’s chief scout Robbie Cooke watched the highly-rated Costa play all 90 minutes of Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 win over Malaga on Saturday afternoon.

Koke – a midfield player with whom United have been extensively linked but have no intention of signing in January – scored the game’s only goal.

Cooke was one of a number of backroom staff who followed Moyes to Old Trafford from Everton and his mission took him from Spain’s south coast to San Sebastian in the north, where he watched Athletic Bilbao’s Herrera play in the 2-0 defeat by Real Sociedad.