Manchester United are planning a new bid for Marko Arnautovic after falling short with their first attempt to bring the Bologna forward back to the Premier League, according to reports.
Arnautovic emerged as a target for Manchester United this week as they search for a new centre-forward. With Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for their opening defeat to Brighton, Christian Eriksen was initially used in a false-nine role.
Clearly, there could be a better fit for Manchester United. But they may have to enter the transfer market to get someone with the appropriate characteristics.
With that in mind, they were recently linked with Arnautovic as a low-cost option. Formerly of Stoke City and West Ham United, he is now plying his trade for Bologna at the age of 33.
Although he would not be a long-term solution, Man Utd believe he could be worth working with. He already knows Erik ten Hag and assistant Steve McClaren from a spell at FC Twente earlier in his career, when the latter was in charge.
Hence, they would welcome a reunion, via which Arnautovic would come back to the Premier League. But according to the Daily Telegraph, United have failed with their first bid.
They submitted an offer of €8.5million, which equates to around £7.2million. For Bologna, who have Arnautovic under contract until 2024 with the option for a further year, it was not enough.
Still, the Telegraph suggest Man Utd are willing to make a bigger bid for the forward.
What’s more, Arnautovic is “extremely keen” to make the move and could hand in a transfer request to put pressure on Bologna to sell him. It is perhaps understandable, given the difference in stature between the two clubs.
Arnautovic easier to acquire than Sesko
The report concludes that Man Utd may find it easier to sign Arnautovic than another target, Benjamin Sesko.
Although the latter is younger, he also comes with a higher asking price. But there is a difference between what Man Utd value him at compared to his current employers, RB Salzburg.
Furthermore, there may be some doubts as to Sesko’s suitability for an immediate impact in the first team.
In contrast, the theory is that Arnautovic could give them a short-term boost up front. His ability to play out wide when necessary also appeals.
After marking his return to European football following a spell in China with 14 Serie A goals last season, Arnautovic is still a capable marksman. In fact, it was the most prolific season of his career.
Austrian a surprise successor to Cavani
Given his age, there could be some eyebrows raised. But Man Utd do have a gap to fill in the middle of their attack.
Of course, some may argue why they didn’t make a bigger effort to keep Edinson Cavani instead. They would merely be moving one veteran striker on for another. And not many would suggest Arnautovic has been the one with the better career; indeed, Cavani’s legacy overall will be greater.
But that is not to say Arnautovic can’t have a specific impact at United, who may have been fighting a losing battle to keep Cavani happy anyway.
In contrast, the Austrian may be more acknowledging of a rotation role, due to the step up in club he would be making. He also has a prior understanding of the Premier League, which Cavani never had when he arrived in Manchester in 2020.
It would certainly be an interesting succession plan. Perhaps it could be deemed as being outside the box in this case, but Ten Hag has been turning to players he is familiar with anyway.
Importantly, Man Utd will have to set a cap of how much they think Arnautovic is worth. But with the player prepared to push, a positive outcome could yet arrive.