Manchester United should have been looking at landing James Maddison several years ago, says Paul Parker, with an expensive transfer mistake potentially costing them upwards of £120 million ($157m).
That is considered to be the going rate for an England international playmaker attracting plenty of interest at Leicester.
Maddison, at 23 years of age, has made a seamless step up into the Premier League at the King Power Stadium.
He has recorded 16 goals and a steady stream of assists across 18 productive months with the Foxes.
Those efforts have seen his stock rise to the point that United are said to be considering a big-money bid to take him to Old Trafford.
Former Red Devils defender Parker can understand why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be keen on a creative influence, but has questioned why his potential was not noted during spells at Coventry and Norwich.
Parker told Love Sport Radio: “James Maddison is a fantastic footballer, hell of a player - but why didn't Manchester United see him and get him when he was at Norwich City?
“If you want him now, he's going to cost you over £120m.”
While many have suggested that United should be in the market for Maddison, Parker fears the player may not want to swap Leicester for Manchester.
He expects Solskjaer to be given funds to spend in the January transfer window, but wonders whether money will be enough to lure top talent to Old Trafford.
The former full-back added: “Ole should be allowed to go and get players in January, just to add a bit of a spark in to the club and lift the other players. It always makes a difference if a top player comes in.
“For me, you can talk and talk, but does the player really want to come?
“If you look at what's going on at Leicester City, you'd have to question Maddison's mentality if he leaves them now.”
Maddison has helped Leicester into second spot in the Premier League table.
Brendan Rodgers’s side are also chasing down major silverware in the Carabao Cup, with a 1-1 draw played out against Aston Villa in the first leg of a Midlands semi-final on Wednesday.
United could also offer trophy challenges, as they remain in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League, but bringing fresh faces onto their books in a notoriously difficult window will not be easy.