Manchester United missed out on the chance to sign Ruben Dias back in 2018 despite then-manager Jose Mourinho shortlisting him as a target.
Dias has been highly impressive during his first season with City after joining from Benfica. The Portuguese defender has played in 31 of 37 Premier League games so far as Pep Guardiola’s men eased to the title. He has contributed to City having the best defensive record in the top flight, as well as 14 clean sheets.
The 24-year-old has already lifted the League Cup and will get his hands on the league title this weekend. He could add a Champions League title to that collection later this month too.
Earlier this week, his individual performances were also rewarded. He was named the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year, beating the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Harry Kane to that accolade. The PFA Player of the Year award is expected to follow.
As if watching City’s success wasn’t frustrating enough for Manchester United fans, discovering that they passed up the chance to sign Dias themselves won’t make it any easier.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Dias was a target for the Red Devils in the summer of 2018 when Mourinho was in charge.
Mourinho had been on the hunt for a central defender, with the likes of Harry Maguire, Kalidou Koulibaly, Diego Godin and Jerome Boateng linked.
But a lesser-mentioned option was Dias, who was still at Benfica. Mourinho had a a strong knowledge of thanks to his contacts in his native Portugal. The manager also shares an agent, Jorge Mendes, with the player.
In fact, United scouts watched Dias on two occasions. He also played against them twice in the 2017/18 Champions League group stage.
However, a move never materialised as the United chiefs would only sanction a move for a more experienced target. Dias was only 21 at the time.
Much to Mourinho’s frustration, a central defender never arrived at Old Trafford that summer. Maguire eventually arrived 12 months later, by which point Mourinho had been sacked.
Fernandes wants United to sign ex-teammate
In other news, Bruno Fernandes has hinted he would like United to sign Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski.
Fernandes featured alongside the Polish midfielder while both were at Udinese, and has talked up his qualities.
“Technically, I can say that Zielinski is better trained than I am,” he told Poland’s Canal+ (via Goal).
“We had a good challenge. I think in the past, Zielinski was actually a bit shy. He was really young then, just like me, at that time.
“I have a really good relationship with Piotr. He’s a top guy, I like him a lot. He is one of the people I met in Italy with whom I am in touch all the time.
“I spoke to him a few months ago and told him that I would like to play with him again. So, who knows what the future has waiting for us. For me, he is a really, really top player.”
Zielinski has made 238 appearances for the Serie A side, scoring 32 goals, with 10 of those in 2020/21.