Manchester United have been given hope of signing Marko Arnautovic despite seeing their opening offer for the former West Ham and Stoke striker fail.
United boss Erik ten Hag is turning to the Bologna frontman as he steps up his bid to strengthen his attack. Amid doubts over Cristiano Ronaldo, and with Edinson Cavani ready to depart, the Red Devils need more options in attack. And it seems as though experienced Austraian star Arnautovic is the man they have chosen.
The player scored 22 times in a two-year spell at West Ham before departing for Chinese side Shanghai Port. He spent three seasons there, before securing a move to Serie A with Bologna. He has 15 goals in 34 games from his first season in Italy.
And he is well known to United boss Ten Hag and assistant Steve McClaren, with the trio working together at FC Twente back in 2009.
United, though, have seen an opening £7.2m (€8.5m) offer fail for the now 33-year-old striker. However, they are seemingly determined to land their man with a second, improved bid being prepped.
And they have been given some hope that a move will be given the go-ahead with his brother and agent keen for the move to go through.
He has hinted that while the move has been rejected, he insists talks with Bologna will continue in a bid to find agreement.
“It’s true that there’s a bid from a well-known club,” Danijel Arnautovic said. “I’m in contact with Bologna to see if that can be realised.”
United’s need for more options in attack was exposed on Sunday as they lost 2-1 to Brighton in Ten Hag’s first match in charge.
While Ronaldo did make an impact off the bench, as per Ten Hag’s own admission, his future remains uncertain.
Gary Neville hits out at Marko Arnautovic transfer plan
However, efforts to bring Marko Arnautovic have not exactly gone down well with supporters of the club.
And pundit Gary Neville reckons it’s a big sign of enormous desperation from the club.
“The first thing you do when the phone rings from Manchester United is reject the bid,” he told Sky Sports.
“The reality of it is you know full well, they’ve lost that game today, they’re actually negotiating from an even worse position than they were yesterday and that’s a bigger problem for them.”
An unimpressed, Neville continued: “We’ve seen it with Falcao, Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Ighalo – these desperate, sort of experienced signings.
“We’ve seen it now for eight or 10 years, it’s a pattern, it’s happening time and time again. We don’t even get angry, we don’t even get animated about it anymore. It’s got to the point where I don’t even want to comment about it.”
Fellow pundit Keane was similarly dismayed and added: “Who’s making these decisions? Who’s deciding which players are going to come in?
“They’re talking about Darren Fletcher as technical director, they’ve got a new coach, John Murtough is obviously involved, there’s a new chief executive, there’s talk about them going back to Alex Ferguson and David Gill. My goodness, what is going on?
“It’s alright having the money, you’ve got to get the right players in with the right character.”
An embarrassing move for Man Utd
Having seemingly been in the market for Darwin Nunez earlier this summer, this is a remarkable drop in standards for United.
Nunez moved to Liverpool in a club-record £85m move. Now United are scratching around for veteran stars now well past their best. It’s an embarrassing move for the club and their supporters.
Yes, he’s not a bad player and was always a tough opponent for defenders during his time with West Ham and Stoke. He’s one of those forwards, who can drop deep, link-up play very well and give opponents a problem. But at 33, you question how many years left he has at the top?
And that is why Keane and Neville are right to question Manchester United.
The club has had a miserable transfer window so far, with just three new arrivals. Ultimately, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez should all add quality to their ranks. But their lengthy pursuit for Frenkie de Jong has also seen questions raised.
They still have a few weeks to further strengthen their squad. But the fact they are scrambling around in the bottom end of the market suggests times are tight and friends are few for an increasingly-desperate Ten Hag.
Keane, meanwhile, has also gone to town on United after their loss to Brighton. He has named two predictable scapegoats for the loss, after highlighting their shortcomings.