Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reportedly turned down the chance to break the club’s transfer fee this summer following an invitation to sign Victor Osimhen.
The new Red Devils manager is putting his masterplan to work after being charged with resuscitating the club’s fortunes. Theyb laboured home to a sixth-placed finish last season – and it was clear to all that major surgery on the squad was needed. To that end, Ten Hag was allowed to spend a whopping £216m over the summer.
That comfortably makes Ten Hag the United manager who has spent the most in any one single transfer window.
However, that figure could have been a lot higher had he pursued initial interest in Osimhen.
The United boss and his recruitment team were on the lookout for a new centre forward in the event Cristiano Ronaldo departed. The Portuguese superstar was agitating for an exit following the club’s failure to secure a Champions League spot.
Ultimately, that move did not transpire despite a string of high-profile links.
But on the off-chance he would depart, United seemingly sounded out Osimhen for a move.
The Nigerian striker has an excellent record in front of goal, scoring 68 goals in 158 appearances.
As such, he was the name seemingly on top of their wanted list as their hunt for a new striker gathered pace. At one stage, there were even suggestions that Napoli and Manchester United could orchestrate a swap for Ronaldo and Osimhen.
But while that move was never a realistic scenario, the prospect of Napoli selling Osimhen was.
Now, according to Fabrizio Romano, Napoli told United they were willing to sell the striker this summer, having stuck a lofty price on the player’s head.
Man Utd turned down Victor Osimhen transfer
Ultimately, though, it was a deal the Red Devils were to turn down. Ten Hag, as it went, was beginning to make headway in his push to sign Antony from Ajax.
And deals for both players were ultimately deemed too costly for United, with Ten Hag favouring the Brazilian.
Romano, though, has explained just how close the transfer came to Caught Offside.
“I’ve seen many rumours about Napoli striker Victor Osimhen – a very good striker, a very important player.
“My understanding is the only chance to sign him was towards the end of the summer. However, they decided to go for Antony as their priority.
“At the moment, Napoli have absolutely no intention to sell Osimhen in January.
“They’re having an amazing season and Osimhen is a big part of that. They’ve always said it would take more than €100million, so it won’t be easy in January to tempt Napoli into a sale.”
Further reports have since indicated that Napoli were actually seeking £116m (€130m) for Osimhen over the summer. That would have set United back a club-record fee by some distance.
United likely to prioritise other transfers in January
Ten Hag is likely to be handed more money to spend in January as he bids to build on his promising start at Old Trafford. However, it is hugely unlikely the club will make a blockbuster Osimhem transfer move.
To that end, reports have suggested he will have a more modest amount to spend with two prospective signings his ‘chosen ones’.
Further down the line, Ten Hag will need to address his goalkeeping situation. David De Gea’s contract expires in June and there’s a growing belief his time may be drawing to a close.
Ten Hag wants to sign a goalkeeper who is more suited to his style. As such, he’s reportedly looking for a stopper who is highly competent with the ball at his feet. As such, it’s no surprise to see links growing to Everton’s Jordan Pickford.
Down the line, Ten Hag may also need a new striker should Ronaldo move away. Replacing his goals will not be easy. However, there are signs so far this season that he is trying to ‘wean’ his side off relying too heavily on the Portuguese veteran.
The likes of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have started the season well – and been back in the goals.
Furthermore, Antony has also got on the scoresheet in his one appearance so far.
As such, there are suggestions that Ten Hag is trying to recreate the fluid front three system that has served Liverpool so well in recent years.