Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that he is still in the process of rejuvenating his squad, insisting that he has remained committed to his players instead of simply replacing them.
Many have criticised United's activity in the transfer market since Mourinho's arrival in 2016. The club have spent around £360m on the likes of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, whilst rivals Manchester City have spent over £500m in the same time period, helping Pep Guardiola's men stroll to the Premier League title last season.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News ahead of Sunday's derby clash between the two Manchester clubs, Mourinho insisted that he is still in the process of rebuilding the ageing squad which he inherited when he joined the club.
He said: "I got in my first season players like Wayne [Rooney], Michael Carrick, phenomenal players, some of the most important players in the past years of the club going to the end.
"We get a player like Ibra to help us, to have a certain power to fight for something clear for us - which was to go back to the Champions League level. And hard work, really hard work with people like Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial for example.
"Because for these talented players to come to the level they are is a process. Because to transform talent in professional players, stability, performance, is a hard work process, so is rebuilding, yes."
Mourinho then hinted that City's squad rebuild has been a simpler task than United's, as Guardiola's side are happy to invest heavily in their team. He has previously admitted his frustrations at City's expensive signings of full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, and he again focused on City's transfer business.
He said: "If I need a full-back and if I buy four, is easier, okay? So when I need a full-back when I'm not happy with Luke Shaw level, the easiest is to buy four and some clubs can buy four. We didn't buy a left-back for three years, we didn't buy a left-back. We were wishing and working for Luke Shaw to be that left-back.
"It takes less time to buy four, to buy four you only need good scouting and money. To make players takes more time, takes more time."