Paulo Dybala’s agent held talks with Ed Woodward over a transfer to Manchester United – before the Argentine had a late change of heart and instructed his representative to call the talks off.
The Juventus star was seemingly on his way out of the eight-time defending Serie A champions last summer when Maurizio Sarri was appointed and his agent admitted the player was frustrated by a lack of playing time the season before.
Dybala was linked with a move to the Premier League, both with United and Tottenham, then managed by his good friend Mauricio Pochettino, strongly mentioned as suitors.
But now it’s been revealed for the first time just how close United were to securing Dybala’s signature for what surely would have been a club-record fee.
According to Fabrizio Romano in Calciomercato, Dybala’s broker Jorge Antun was in negotiations with the United executive vice chairman Woodward at the club’s London office and was laying out personal terms over his prospective transfer.
However, with an agreement seemingly close, Dybala phoned Antum mid-meeting to instruct him to cancel the talks and to inform him he’d had a change of heart and no longer wanted to leave Juventus.
United were also looking to use former striker Romelu Lukaku as a possible makeweight in the potential signing, but Dybala’s stance forced the Red Devils to end their efforts to move him on to the Old Lady, with the Belgian instead being sold to Inter Milan instead.
And after deciding to stay, Dybala got his head down and was soon lifted by Juventus’ captures of both Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax, as well as Aaron Ramsey on a free from Arsenal.
And the Argentine has not looked back, playing a huge role for Sarri’s side this season as they look to make it nine Serie A titles in a row, with Dybala having 14 goals and seven assists from 45 appearances this season.
Man Utd had been reported last summer as pulling out of the race due to a concern over expenses regarding image rights, while a report in The Athletic claimed it was the huge fees that would have been involved if a deal for Dybala went through that caused United to withdraw their interest.
‘The Athletic has also been told agent fees alone would have reached £13million.’
Dybala’s agent recently denied accusations that the Argentina striker’s demands were too high.
Jorge Antun told Tuttosport: “I did speak to the English club, but the stories about the commission were not true.
“There were simply issues between the two clubs.”
Manchester United, meanwhile, have been told they are only three players short of becoming genuine Premier League title contenders again – and pundit Danny Murphy knows exactly who they should try and buy.