Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Marko Arnautovic: Bologna play hard ball with both manager and director setting Man Utd straight

Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic

Man Utd could face more misery in the transfer market after Bologna’s manager and sporting director both talked tough on the idea of selling Marko Arnautovic.

The Austrian veteran, 33, has emerged as a surprise target to bolster Erik ten Hag’s forward line. United have already seen a bid worth £7.6m rejected, though per the Italian media, are preparing a new offer worth at least £8.4m.

United are known to be hunting a versatile forward and have drawn links with Ajax’s Antony all summer.

However, the Brazilian is now valued around the £80m mark, meaning a more cost-effective option could be targeted given their Frenkie de Jong pursuit is still rumbling on.

Arnautovic can play on either wing as well as up front or behind the striker. In that sense, he looks a fine and relatively low risk capture on paper.

Initial reports claimed the player was fascinated by the thought of a late-career stint back in England. However, the latest from Bologna suggests Man Utd may face more disappointment.

Firstly, Bologna manager, Sinisa Mihajlovic, admitted he’d be “happy” if his star striker got such an impressive move late in his career.

However, Mihajlovic stressed it would be a “great loss” for his side and he doesn’t believe Arnautovic will leave.

Arnautovic transfer chances rated

“If he were to go away it would be a great loss,” said Mihajlovic (via TribalFootball).

“I would be happy for him , but I think he will stay in the end.”

The coach added: “We talked to each other, surely if he stays here he will train well and do what he has to do. If he goes away we will see, but I don’t think so.”

Secondly, director Marco Di Vaio labelled Arnautovic as “priceless”. He also insisted the Bologna big wigs are all aligned in their desire to retain Arnautovic.

“It’s not easy to play in the transfer window, there’s a lot of talk, we want to keep Marko,” said Di Vaio (via Football Italia).

“[Giovanni] Sartori, the president and [Claudio] Fenucci said as much. He’s at the centre of our project.

“The interest in him makes us proud, especially because he was an idea by Sabatini and carried forward by the club to realise a dream, which was to bring him here after two or three years in China.

“It was a bet that we won, he responded on the pitch and we want to move forward with him. We don’t want to sell him, but to strengthen the team to have an important season.”

Bologna seeking more money?

He continued: “It’s not a question of money, he’s priceless for what he represents for us. We want to move forward with him because we believe he can do better and help us grow.

“He is always the first in training to spur the others on, he has no price tag.”

Of course, Bologna’s public stance could be a simple case of trying to squeeze more money out of Man Utd.

Regardless, Calciomercato’s Alessio Lento claimed Bologna want a decision made one way or the other before the Serie A campaign begins next weekend.

As such, the onus is on United to make an offer Bologna can’t refuse within the next few days.