Man Utd ‘preferred’ the idea of signing a defensive colossus over Raphael Varane, but ultimately chose to sign the Frenchman after details of why they compromised were revealed.
The Red Devils oversaw a transfer window that has set expectations for the current season sky high. Their shock defeat to Young Boys on Tuesday has dampened the mood somewhat, though Man Utd will still be confident of strolling through the group.
Citing Italian outlet Calciomercato, they claim Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly was their ‘preferred’ choice.
The Senegal captain, 30, has been one of European football’s most imposing defenders in recent years. Persistent links always emerge with England’s elite clubs during transfer windows, though Koulibaly has ultimately remained in Naples.
Perhaps the biggest threat to his Serie A stint emerged this summer. The Sun report states Man Utd were ‘willing to offer’ £30m to sign the colossus. However, Napoli indicated that figure would ‘not be enough.’
Citing the same Italian source, the Daily Express add their take. They claim Napoli desired the moderately higher sum of £34.1m (€40m) for the 30-year-old. Man Utd reportedly baulked at that amount.
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Instead, they opted to pursue Varane who went on to arrive in a deal worth virtually the same amount at an initial £34m.
Whether that will prove the correct decision, only time will tell. Though their decision can be vindicated in theory by Varane having greater Champions League experience and being two years younger.
Additionally, Napoli reportedly insisted on ‘bonuses’ being included in a potential Koulibaly deal which further deterred Man Utd.
Man Utd confidence growing over key deal
Meanwhile, Man Utd are reportedly becoming increasingly confident regarding agreeing a fresh contract with Bruno Fernandes amid claims two of Spain’s biggest clubs were plotting a surprise swoop.
Given his stellar displays, the Red Devils were reported in August to be ‘keen’ to renew the 26-year-old’s contract.
Fernandes is reportedly on a wage of around £110,000 a week at Old Trafford. But Man Utd are understood to have proposed new terms that would see his existing four-year deal extended by a year. Additionally, his salary would rise to £250,000 a week.
However, it isn’t all plain sailing. Despite claims Fernandes is willing to sign, his agent Miguel Pinto is keen to ensure the new deal contains some sort of release clause. Thankfully, United chiefs were said to have ‘immediately dismissed’ Pinto’s plans to insert such a clause.
And now, The Sun claims Pinto has backed down and an agreement on a new £250,000 a week deal is close.
Furthermore, the failure to insert the clause will end claims that Fernandes could be lured away to Spain. As per the Daily Express, both Barcelona and Real Madrid were reportedly keeping a close eye on the Portuguese’s new deal were the clause to be inserted.