Reports today suggest United offered Tottenham up to Â£120m for Bale - a world record - and even flew him back to Manchester for talks.
However, the player decided on a Â£86m switch to the Bernabeu.
Manchester Evening News Sport Editor Pete Spencer revealed: "Bale and Ronaldo were United's top two targets, but it was made clear by Tottenham and Bale's advisors that if he left it would only be for one place - Madrid.
"The main thing for United then was keeping Rooney and buying at least one midfielder.
"Fabregas would have been an ideal fit but Fellaini also fits in to Moyes' philosophy as he's strong and capable of making a difference at free-kicks."