David Moyes' frequent scouting trips have quickly turned into the worst kept secret in football. The Manchester United manager has been spotted taking in games in La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 during his tenure at Old Trafford and was once again on his travels on Wednesday evening.
RMC report the Scot was in attendance as France defeated Holland 2-0 in a World Cup warm up match at the Stade de France. Although appearances from Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie will have been two of the reasons for his trip across the channel, a number of players who have appeared on United's radar over the course of the season were on show. Who left an impression on the under-pressure Moyes?
The Real Sociedad starlet has attracted admirers from all quarters this season, recently enhancing his burgeoning reputation with a sumptuous display in a 3-1 win over Barcelona last month. The 22-year-old was handed his first France cap last night but nerves appeared to get the better of the winger as he endured a relatively quiet evening in front of the watching United boss.
However, his starting role in last night's friendly is likely to assure him a spot in Didier Deschamps' World Cup squad where he will have the platform to perform on the grandest stage next summer, while his outstanding haul of 15 goals and three assists in La Liga this season suggest only a fool will have been deterred by his subdued performance on Wednesday.
Stepping in for Laurent Koscielny to partner Raphael Varane, Eliaquim Mangala provided a commanding performance in front of one of his many admirers as he helped nullify the threat of Robin van Persie. Making just his second appearance for Les Blues, the Porto defender should have put his side ahead just before half time but was unable to direct his header on target after being picked out by Karim Benzema, nodding over from two yards out.
But the 22-year-old provided clear reason why both Manchester clubs are keen on his services later on to deny van Persie, thwarting the Dutchman with a fabulous interception at the near post to ensure his side kept a clean sheet.
22-year-old Jordy Clasie's ability to retain possession and find the telling ball from the centre of midfield has somewhat inevitably drawn comparisons with Barcelona stalwart Xavi. With no Nigel de Jong avaliable, the relatively inexperienced Feyenoord midfielder started alongside Kevin Strootman and showed signs of early promise in Paris but was unable to build on that when his midfield partner was taken off before half time. Faced with the formidable midfield presence of Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, Clasie struggled to impose himself, which was the case for many of those playing in orange last night.
No matter who Manchester United sign this summer, the sight of Paul Pogba quickly evolving into one of Europe's finest midfielders will always be a painful one for the club who let him leave for virtually nothing two years ago. The Juventus midfielder was in excellent form and was the source of his side's opener, picking Karim Benzema out with an inch-perfect ball before the Real Madrid striker fired past the Dutch goalkeeper.
Pogba's performance won't have told Moyes or any other clubs hoping to lure him away from the Bianconeri anything they don't already however; his reputation as one of Europe's most flourishing talents needs no explanation.
Hindsight, for the most part, is a wonderful thing and the sight of Kevin Strootman marshalling the Roma midfield with ease this season will have been another irritating one for United, who were relentlessly linked with the midfielder for what seemed like eons pior to his move to Serie A. Those who doubted whether the Dutchman's physically imposing stature could measure up outside of the Eredivisie have been proved wrong, but the 24-year-old appeared to have met his match in Paris Saint Germain's Matuidi.
The compelling duel between the two powerful midfielders was brought to an early end however as Strootman was taken off with an injury five minutes before half time. Matuidi proceeded to take the game to Louis van Gaals' side and was France's driving force in the centre of midfield, also scoring his side's second with a sublime acrobatic volley.