Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s career could have taken a very different route after it emerged he almost left Crystal Palace to join Coventry City on a free transfer some years before.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer targeted youth at Old Trafford and drafted in 22-year-old Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, while they also added Dan James, 21, and Harry Maguire in a £150million summer spending spree.
The summer United recruit has enjoyed a solid enough start for United since his £50million switch – making a total of 15 appearances including 11 in the Premier League – though is yet to reach his consistent best in Red Devils colours.
And while one observer believes Solskjaer would have been better off moving for Kieran Trippier instead, it has emerged that Wan-Bissaka’s career path could have taken a very different route had he got the move away he’d initially wanted in January 2018 after becoming irked by his lack of first-team football.
“There’s some there that come out of scope. A great example is Aaron Wan-Bissaka, I tried to get him on a free to Coventry and was close, really close,” the club’s former head of recruitment Tommy Widdrington told the Bristol Post.
“But then he got into the Palace team due to two freak injuries, I had watched him at the under-23s playing on the wing for months and said to Mark that this kid’s going to be a good full-back; he’s not yet, but he will be. Then off he went.”
That story appears to have been ratified by Mark Bright, who claims Wan-Bissaka tried to orchestrate a move away from Selhurst Park in January 2018.
“Amazingly on transfer deadline day he asked me if he could go out on loan,” he told The Sun.
“I asked the manager and he refused, but as I was telling him the manager came down and told him ‘if you stay here you will be training with Yohan Cabaye, Wilf [Zaha] and Andros Townsend’.
“‘You might even get a chance here’, that was the last thing he said to him.
“Five days later he made his first-team debut.
“I would have sent him out on loan as there were two clubs who wanted him and we would have never known.
“He, without knowing it, gives all those below and in his age group hope that at this football club, if you work hard enough and develop, you will get in the team.”
The England U21 star made a total of 46 appearances in total for Palace before United were convinced to splash out £50m for his services in summer 2019.