The six players Ralf Rangnick wanted to sign for Manchester United and how they’ve fared since

Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig celebrates after scoring his third goal for RB Leipzig in the 73rd minute to make the score 4-3 to City

Ralf Rangnick has demonstrated an incredible eye for talent throughout his career and tried to bring six players to Manchester United. 

Rangnick became United’s interim manager after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskajer in December 2021 and was also expected to take up a consultancy role.

He wanted to bolster the squad during the January transfer window but United didn’t make any signings and Rangnick then left Old Trafford at the end of the season.

“There was no such [transfer] dossier, and it was never wanted by the club,” Rangnick told German outlet BILD. “But even without such a script, it was clear to everyone that there was a need in many areas.

“That’s why we were already discussing players like Josko Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig. Those were names that were realistic.

“We also talked about Alvaro Morata, Luis Diaz, Dusan Vlahovic and, as I said, Erling Haaland when they were still on the market. But the club decided at that time to rebuild the team under the new coach.”

We’ve taken a look at how those six players have fared in recent months.

Erling Haaland

Admittedly, United probably didn’t need Rangnick to point out that Haaland is pretty special.

The 22-year-old had already established himself as one of the best strikers in the world and finished the 2021/22 season with 29 goals in 30 appearances for Borussia Dortmund.

Manchester City won the race for his signature in the summer transfer window and triggered the £51.1m release clause in his contract.

The Norway international has taken English football by storm in recent months, and he’s already tearing up the record books.

He has scored 17 goals in his first 11 Premier League games, including a hat-trick in City’s 6-3 win over United. Haaland also has five goals in the Champions League this season and is now the youngest player to net 25 goals in the competition.

Dusan Vlahovic

Vlahovic emerged as one of the most sought-after forwards in world football after scoring 33 league goals for Fiorentina in 2021, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A record for most goals in a calendar year.

Despite being linked with Arsenal and Tottenham in the January transfer window, he remained in Italy and joined Juventus in a deal worth an initial £58m.

The striker was signed to help fill the void left by Ronaldo and has made a respectable start to life in Turin, scoring 17 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions.

But he’s struggled to replicate his best form under Massimiliano Allegri and has often cut an isolated and frustrated figure up front due to the lack of service from his teammates. 

The 22-year-old was also unable to prevent Juventus from being knocked out of the Champions League group stages in 2022/23.

Alvaro Morata

Morata scored just four Serie A goals for Juventus in the second half of 2021/22 and they decided against turning his loan move into a permanent deal.

He was linked with a move to United during the transfer window but Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone decided to keep the striker at Wanda Metropolitano.

The Spain international enjoyed a brilliant start to the season, scoring a brace in a 3-0 win against Getafe on the opening weekend.

But he’s scored just three goals in his last 11 La Liga appearances and has failed to find the back of the net in five Champions League games this season.

Alongside Juventus, Atletico Madrid are also enduring a turbulent season and won’t be playing in the Champions League knockout rounds.

Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata

Luis Diaz

After starring for Porto in the first half of the 2021/22 season, Diaz was heavily linked with West Ham and Tottenham in the January transfer window.

Unlike United, Liverpool decided to intervene and they brought the Colombia international to Anfield in a deal that could eventually be worth £50m.

He hit the ground running and registered 11 direct goal contributions for the Reds in 2021/22, including a goal and assist in their 4-0 win over United in April. 

The winger was on the losing side in the Champions League final but still won two trophies in his debut season with Liverpool after producing man-of-the-match performances in the League Cup and FA Cup final wins over Chelsea. 

“He gets our football, 100 percent,” Jurgen Klopp said in May. “We thought we saw that at Porto, but that it really is like this, I feel lucky as well to be honest. He fits like a glove to our football, and that’s really, really special.”

Diaz has been one of Liverpool’s standout performers during their difficult start to the 2022/23 season but is currently on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

Christopher Nkunku

After arriving at Old Trafford, Rangnick was reportedly amazed when United scouts informed him that Nkunku was not on their list of potential targets. 

The RB Leipzig star fought off competition from Robert Lewandowski and won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award in 2021/22 after registering 20 goals and 15 assists in 34 league appearances. 

He also scored 15 goals and five assists in other competitions, including an equaliser in Leipzig’s DFB-Pokal final win over Freiburg.

Despite attracting attention from a number of Europe’s top clubs, the France international then signed a new contract with a £52.8m release clause.

Nkunku has since shown that last season was no fluke by registering 13 goals and an assist in 19 appearances in the current campaign.

According to reports, the 24-year-old looks set to move to the Premier League next year and has agreed to join Chelsea.

Josko Gvardiol

United needed defensive reinforcements and Rangnick identified Gvardiol, who has established a reputation as one of the best young defenders in the world since joining RB Leipzig in 2020. 

The centre-back finished the 2021/22 season with 14 clean sheets in all competitions as Leipzig finished won the DFB-Pokal and had the joint-best defensive record in the Bundesliga.

He was reportedly the subject of a £77.4m bid from Chelsea in the final days of the summer transfer window but Leipzig refused to sanction his departure. 

The 20-year-old has since signed a one-year contract extension with the Bundesliga side, although his new deal contains a £43.6m release clause. Chelsea are expected to reignite their interest in 2023 and Manchester City have also been linked with the defender. 

After undergoing minor surgery on his thigh in the summer, he has been eased back into the Leipzig team this season, starting five games and making a further five substitute appearances in the Bundesliga.

The Croatia international has still helped his side win three successive games in the Champions League group stages and even scored in a 3-2 victory over Real Madrid.

READ MORE: Ranking Manchester United’s six summer signings by how they’ve fared so far this season: Martinez, Casemiro…