Ed Woodward turned down the chance to bring Erling Haaland to Manchester United last January after refusing to succumb to a request from super-agent Mino Raiola, as per a report.
The 20-year-old striker has become something of a goal-machine since his emergence with RB Salzburg. He netted 29 goals in 27 games for the Austrian side before securing a move to Borussia Dortmund for just £17.2m.
United had been in the mix to sign him and even held talks with the player and his agent Raiola.
The Red Devils ultimately missed out on his signing though, despite their lucrative offer to the Leeds-born attacker.
Haaland has now taken his prolific goalscoring record to the Bundesliga. He has 21 in 23 games for Dortmund, with his form showing no signs of letting up.
United’s failure to land Haaland, however, further turned the spotlight towards executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
There were claims at the time that a falling-out between Woodward and Raiola were to blame for United’s failure to sign Haaland. However, that theory has since been dismissed by Raiola himself.
“There was no fall-out between me and Ed Woodward. It was just a normal negotiation and the player has chosen a different path,” Raola said.
“If they want to blame someone then, fine, blame me but the player is happy. He has made his choice and we went through a normal process.
“The club that he had the most direct contact with him was Manchester United. Clearly he felt that at this moment it was not the right step in his career.
“He chose Borussia Dortmund ahead of them and other clubs. When you are 19 then maybe you prefer not to go to the Premier League.”
However, ESPN now claims the failure to land Haaland was entirely down to Woodward. They report he pulled the plug on the £17.2m deal because of agent fees. Furthermore, it’s claimed Woodward was opposed to the insistence of the Haaland camp that a release clause be inserted into his Old Trafford contract.
That clause has since been inserted into his deal at Dortmund. This states he can now leave the Westfallonstadion in 2022 should any club match his €70m (£63m) release fee.
The decision though is said to have angered United boss Ole Gunar Solskjaer, who did not agree with Woodward’s stance.
ESPN claims that while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he would have likely have faced a battle to keep the striker in two years time, he felt Haaland would have been a fantastic addition in the meantime.
The Norwegian also believes that signing Haaland would have made perfect sense from a sporting and financial benefit.
He had also worked with Haaland during his formative years at Molde. As such, it’s thought Haaland was open to the idea of working with Solskjaer again.
Haaland, Sancho still top United targets
The failure to land Haaland has been brought into sharp focus once again after United also missed out Jadon Sancho this summer.
Solskjaer has been diplomatic when speaking publicly about United’s failure to land the pair. Missing out on both players is “a source of frustration” for the United boss.
Speaking to ESPN FC in April, journalist Rob Dawson outlined that United will still have hope of signing Haaland if they can meet the striker’s release clause.
“The interesting thing about that deal [with Dortmund], though, is that his representatives made sure there was a release clause in that deal, which means that if a team were to meet that, he would have the freedom to go and talk to them,” Dawson said.
“Real Madrid are interested, they’ve got goalscoring issues that they think Haaland might be able to solve.
“But United’s interest hasn’t gone away. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows him very well from their time together at Molde, he knows his father very well – he used to play for Leeds.”