Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Two reasons cited after Man Utd failed to sign Liverpool target Ten Hag wanted over Sabitzer

Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch battling Barcelona forward Ferran Torres

Erik ten Hag prioritised signing a Liverpool midfield target ahead of Marcel Sabitzer, though why Man Utd were unable to forge a deal has been revealed by multiple sources.

Manchester United sprung into life on deadline day upon learning of Christian Eriksen’s lengthy injury lay-off. The classy Dane has been ruled out for up to three months following an ankle issue sustained in a reckless challenge by Reading’s Andy Carroll on Saturday.

Eriksen has been an integral part of everything United have done well this season. Indeed, his midfield pairing with the equally impressive Casemiro has been a revelation.

But with United’s most creative midfielder now on the treatment table, a direct replacement was required.

Ultimately, the Red Devils settled on Bayern Munich’s Marcel Sabitzer. The 28-year-old joined on a six-month loan without an option or obligation to buy. As such, if United wish to sign the Austrian outright at season’s end, they’ll have to start negotiations from scratch at that time.

Sky Sports revealed five other midfield targets who were either offered to United or who the club considered. Many would’ve come with sizeable drawbacks, something that makes Ten Hag’s ability to lure Sabitzer to Old Trafford all the more important.

Indeed, the midfielder immediately greenlit the move once United came calling. The prospect of working with Ten Hag is understood to have played a major part in Sabitzer’s decision.

However, according to both the Independent and Sky Sports, Sabitzer was not United or Ten Hag’s first choice.

Man Utd wanted summer Liverpool target Gravenberch

That honour fell to fellow Bayern teammate and Liverpool target Ryan Gravenberch who Ten Hag knows well from their time at Ajax.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were mentioned alongside a Gravenberch move throughout last summer prior to his move to Bayern. Sky’s Melissa Reddy described the box-to-box Dutchman as being on Liverpool’s ‘midfield shortlist’ at the time.

The 20-year-old rose to prominence under Ten Hag in Amsterdam before the pair both moved on in the summer.

Ten Hag jetted off to England to join United, while Gravenberch found a new home in Bavaria upon completing a €23m (approx. £20m (including add-ons)) transfer.

Ten Hag reunion didn’t hold weight

The Independent offered one reason why a Gravenberch deal wasn’t forged, stating Bayern were simply ‘reluctant’ to sanction a loan move.

Neither Gravenberch or Sabitzer have been regular starters this season. Manager Julian Nagelsmann’s preferred midfield pairing is Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.

But with Gravenberch having only just arrived six months prior, Bayern were against turfing the Dutch international out so soon after arriving.

Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy confirmed Bayern’s reluctance to part ways with Gravenberch, and also highlighted a second reason.

She reported Gravenberch wasn’t actually on board with joining United, instead preferring to remain in situ and fight for his place at the German giant.

Clearly, the pull of reuniting with Ten Hag was not strong in this instance.

READ MORE: Late Man Utd deal goes through to give Ten Hag big decision after never seeing star play