Manchester United failed to sign any of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s priority targets during the summer transfer window, sources have told ESPN.
United completed their transfer business on deadline day on Monday by sealing deals for Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, Amad Traore and Facundo Pellistri, having secured the £40 million signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek at the beginning of September.
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But sources have told ESPN that Solskjaer went into the transfer window having drawn up a shortlist of targets including Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho, Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and a commanding centre-half, with RB Leipzig‘s Dayot Upamecano and Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake his preferred options to partner captain Harry Maguire at the heart of United’s defence.
None of the subsequent summer signings were players identified by Solskjaer and his coaching staff as key targets, although sources have told ESPN that the manager was consulted on every new arrival and that he sanctioned each deal before being completed, including that of Van de Beek, who has yet to start a Premier League game for United.
Solskjaer also missed out on top target Erling Haaland during the January transfer window, with the forward instead moving to Dortmund from FC Salzburg after lengthy attempts by United to sign the player.
Having failed to sign Haaland as the solution to Solskjaer’s search for a centre-forward in January, United ultimately signed Odion Ighalo on a short-term loan from Shanghai Shenhua on Jan 31.
Despite being the focus of United’s summer transfer plans, a move for Sancho failed to materialise due to a refusal to meet Dortmund’s £108m asking price, as well as high demands from the player’s representatives.
Villa’s £80m valuation of Grealish, who ultimately signed a new contract at Villa Park, scuppered prospects of a deal for the England midfielder, while Leipzig also tied Upamecano to a new contract.
And any potential move for Ake was ruled out when Manchester City moved swiftly to complete a £41m deal for the Netherlands international in early August.
United also explored the possibility of signing Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich before the former Barcelona midfielder completed a £20m move to Liverpool last month.