Man United had £100m for defender
Manchester United were prepared to back manager Jose Mourinho by breaking the transfer record for a defender this summer but were given no encouragement that the world’s best centre-backs were available.
United were willing to spend £100 million on a central defender — which would have eclipsed the £75 million Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk in January — but top targets like Raphael Varane ultimately proved out of reach. Ed Woodward and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez met in Miami last month. A number of topics were discussed including the transfer market. The transfer window closed on Thursday with United failing to add to their three summer signings — Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant.
Mourinho had been desperate to add a defender to his squad before the Premier League kick-off against Leicester at Old Trafford on Friday but proposed deals for Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld, Yerry Mina, Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin never materialised. United, who had the second best defensive record in the league last season, were concerned at the size of the fees quoted by Leicester for Maguire and by Tottenham for Alderweireld and decided both deals did not represent value for money.
Ed Woodward and Daniel Levy spoke once during the summer when the Tottenham chairman asked about the availability of Anthony Martial and Juan Mata — enquiries that were both rejected. United, according to sources, also had reservations about Boateng’s injury record and offered to take the German on loan before Bayern Munich knocked back the proposal.
Meanwhile, interest in Mina ended when the Colombian’s advisors asked for what has been described as a “ridiculous” fee. The 23-year-old eventually left Barcelona for Everton in a £28 million deal on deadline day. A tentative enquiry for Diego Godin, 32, seemed to only to speed up the Uruguay international’s contract negotiations with Atletico Madrid.
It leaves Mourinho to head into the new season with the five centre-backs already at his disposal — Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo. Rojo will stay at Old Trafford after United failed to get the new arrival Mourinho wanted.
However, Timothy Fosu-Mensah left the club on deadline day after signing a season-long loan deal at Premier League newboys Fulham.