Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd had January signing ‘in their hands’ until current star forced Ten Hag to change his mind

Croatia stars Mateo Kovacic, Josip Juranovic, Borna Sosa, Josko Gvardiol, Dominik Livakovic

Man Utd were ready to make a January splash for a Croatia international, though pulled the plug after a current star’s remarkable resurgence forced Erik ten Hag into a re-think, per a trusted source.

The Red Devils oversaw a modest winter window, especially when compared to their top four rivals. Newcastle splashed out £40m to sign Antony Gordon, while Liverpool completed their business early when landing Cody Gakpo.

Chelsea blew the league away when forking out a massive £291m. The headline attractions were Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez whose £106.8m smashed the British transfer record.

In contrast, United were content to sanction a trio of loan moves for Jack Butland, Wout Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer. The latter’s move only arose after Christian Eriksen was ruled out for around three months with an ankle injury.

However, according to Fabrizio Romano, a permanent signing at right-back was in Man Utd’s sights.

The build-up to the winter window saw plenty of speculation swirl over the future of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The former Crystal Palace star is widely believed to be a poor fit for Ten Hag’s system. The Dutchman wants full-backs who are as good going forward as they are at defending. Unfortunately for Wan-Bissaka, the attacking side of the game has never been his forte.

That resulted in Diogo Dalot quickly establishing himself as Ten Hag’s number one in the position. However, the Portuguese has missed nine of United’s 12 matches post-World Cup through injury.

His absence provided Wan-Bissaka with a timely opportunity to prove his worth and the 25-year-old has not disappointed.

United have kept six clean sheets in the 10 matches Wan-Bissaka has started since domestic football returned. Of those ten fixtures, the Red Devils have won eight, drawn one and lost just once.

It’s been a remarkable resurgence from Wan-Bissaka and as a direct result, Romano reported Ten Hag simultaneously opted to retain the right-back and pull the plug on their pursuit of Celtic’s Josip Juranovic.

Man Utd’s loss becomes Union Berlin’s gain

The 27-year-old Croatia international was a man in demand throughout January. Romano suggested a move to Old Trafford was close, but Juranovic ultimately went on to join German side Union Berlin for £10m (including add-ons) once the deal was shelved.

If Juranovic had joined United, Romano stressed he’d have replaced Wan-Bissaka as Dalot’s back-up.

“Man Utd in November and December were looking for a new right-back, “said Romano via his YouTube channel.

“Wan-Bissaka was expected to leave and a new right-back to come after Wan-Bissaka had a very difficult first part of the season.

“But he did very well in January and Man Utd decided to stay with him and [instead] invest money on [Wout] Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer.

“But we have to add one thing – they had a right-back in their hands, ready to be signed in case Wan-Bissaka was going to leave.

“That player was Josip Juranovic. Croatian right-back playing now for Union Berlin but he was at Celtic [at the time].

“Manchester United had Juranovic top of the list as back-up right-back to Diogo Dalot. Dalot is of course the owner of the right wing at Man Utd. Juranovic was a serious option.

“The Man Utd board discussed his name, he was a concrete option, but after waiting and waiting and waiting, Man Utd decided to keep Wan-Bissaka after doing very well in January.

“And so the Juranovic deal collapsed and he decided to accept the bid of Union Berlin.”

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