Lokomotiv Moscow striker Fedor Smolov turned down a move to Manchester United in favour of a loan spell at Celta Vigo, the Russia international has revealed.
United were chasing a striker throughout January following Marcus Rashford’s back injury but were made to wait until the end of deadline day to announce the signing of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua’s Odion Ighalo until the end of the season.
Several avenues were reportedly explored before former Watford striker Ighalo arrived at Old Trafford; the likes of Southampton’s Danny Ings and Bournemouth’s Danny Rose were the subject of enquiries from the Red Devils.
However, Faro de Vigo has claimed that United made a late bid to sign Smolov, who has 14 goals in 39 appearances for his country and three goals and three assists in the Russian top flight this term.
Smolov instead opted for a loan move to Celta, who are in a La Liga relegation battle, and the 29-year-old spoke to the Spanish source about the reasons for choosing the Spanish first tier over the Premier League.
“It seems more athletic and can be adapted more to my style of play, it is one of the best in the world. I was clear about it,” the forward said.
“Celta is very popular in Russia. I remember small games where [Aleksandr [Mostovoi] and [Valeri] Karpin played and that’s why I followed him.
“I remember very well the European tie between the Krasnodar and the Celta. I was sad not to play it. There I was shocked by [Pione] Sisto and I was also shocked [Hugo] Mallo impressed. Celta was better than us, especially at the tactical level. ”
United are enjoying time off as part of the Premier League’s mid-season break, with their next game coming against Chelsea on February 17.
Ighalo is expected to be in the squad for that tie, having been unable to make the 0-0 draw with Wolves last weekend.
Speaking in his first interview with United, Ighalo opened up on the frantic nature of his deadline day move.
The 30-year-old said: “Yeah, it was very dramatic. My agent called me the day before and said Man United. I would love to go.
“A few other clubs had shown interest, I said please, just pick United, if it’s going to be possible. At 11pm in Shanghai, my agent called me [to say] that United want to do the deal, so I woke up that night and started looking for a translator to go to the directors’ room and hit his door and all that.”