Jose Mourinho’s decision to shelve a move for a left-back has bought him time to monitor the progress of Ryan Sessegnon and Kieran Tierney over the next 12 months.
The Manchester United manager has kept a watchful eye over both left backs who are considered long-term targets.
He might have been forced to step up his pursuit of Sessegnon this summer, had Fulham failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.
But the Londoners’ Play-off final win last month means they are now likely to keep hold of their prize asset, rather than cash in, as would’ve been the case if they’d faced another season in the Championship.
Mourinho is among a host of Premier League managers to express an interest in the 18-year-old - and his stock will only rise should he enjoy a successful campaign in the top flight. But United will be able to better assess his quality when seeing him tested at a higher level.
Tierney, meanwhile, continues to impress for Celtic - and Mourinho will watch the Scotland international further before making a final decision over his left back options.
His focus on youthful targets mirrors United's swoop for Portuguese right-back Diogo Dalot this summer.
The 19-year-old was signed for £17.4m after Mourinho decided the right-hand side of his defense was more of a priority than the left.
There was also the concern his release clause would be triggered by a European rival if United did not act now.
Mourinho had considered Danny Rose and Alex Sandro on the left - but Ashley Young’s outstanding from last season, as well as Luke Shaw’s progress, has led to a change of heart.
Shaw may yet convince his manager that he is the long-term answer at left back.
That is the hope of the club’s hierarchy - and the 22-year-old now has another season to prove he can be a consistent performer at the highest level.
Sandro and Rose are both 27 - and potentially at their peak valuations.
Juventus were demanding £52m for their Brazilian international - and also tried to include Anthony Martial in any deal.
Tottenham would be looking for a similar fee for Rose after selling Kyle Walker to Manchester City for £45m plus add-ons last summer.
In the cases of Sessegnon and Tierney, United would be buying for the longer term, as they did with Shaw when making him the most expensive teenager in the world - signing him from Southampton for £27m in 2014.
His struggles serve as a reminder of the dangers of spending so heavily on youthful potential - and why Mourinho is taking his time before making a final decision on his two leading targets.