Remember those heady days of early June? It seemed like anything was possible for Manchester United in the transfer market this summer.
Optimism has since been replaced by pragmatism, with our hopes of signing five players by July 1 going unfulfilled.
One player we missed out on is Matthijs De Ligt, who today sealed a £67.5 million switch to Juventus.
Juventus snuck up in the race, beating competition from Barcelona and PSG.
The Telegraph had claimed in May that De Ligt was considering United. But in the weeks since, we seemed to back off.
The fee of just £67.5 million really is below what we expected De Ligt to go for. It’s a bargain.
There will no doubt be criticism coming United’s way if we spend £80 million on Harry Maguire. It may be deserved.
Why back off?
There are reasons why United did not go all out for De Ligt. They may not be justifiable, but they are explainable.
Firstly there is likely an unwillingness at United to deal with agent Mino Raiola, who represents Paul Pogba.
That could go both ways, with Raiola probably directing his client away from United. A reluctance on our part is totally understandable.
A lack of Champions League football does not help either. That hasn’t stopped players in the past, but we are a long way off our former glories.
De Ligt may have given United the cold shoulder early on and shut down any approach. This really does highlight how costly missing out on a top four place last season was.
James Robson of the Evening Standard claimed United dropped interest believing De Ligt was Barcelona bound. Juventus didn’t.
One way or another, United made a decision not to match Juventus’ £67.5 million bid.
Does Solskjaer simply prefer Harry Maguire, an English centre-back who is more experienced and knows the Premier League? So far that’s another deal we are struggling to get done.
De Ligt will undoubtedly enjoy success at Juventus. He’s still only 19, and their stability is probably better for him.
But at the price he has gone for, this could be a deal United regret not trying harder for, for many years to come.
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