Manchester United may not have signed Mohammed Salisu this summer, but that does not mean they should forget about him altogether.
Prior to his £10.9million switch to Southampton (Sky Sports), the centre-back was linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Given his fine form in La Liga last season, the rumour was an exciting one. But, despite ESPN claiming United had enquired about the defender, he ended up not in Manchester but on the south coast.
It is an interesting move, highlighting potential parallels with arguably the best centre-back in Europe right now.
Many United fans are still wondering why the club did not go all out for Virgil van Dijk in his formative years. Instead he moved from Scotland to Southampton and the rest is history.
United may have missed out on the dominant Dutchman but it does not need to be a case of history repeating itself.
After all, if United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is genuinely interested in Salisu, next season is the ideal audition. If he excels in the Premier League, the Red Devils would be wise to make a belated move before someone else does.
Only time will tell if he fulfils his potential. But Salisu’s quality is clear. At just 21, he excelled in his breakthrough La Liga campaign, quickly earning a Premier League move and plenty of plaudits.
A potential superstar
Despite United spending huge sums on centre-backs in recent years, talk continues that another will follow.
There are other exciting options out there – Dayot Upamecano and Benoit Badiashile among them – but neither will come cheap.
Solskjaer had the chance to get Salisu for a bargain fee this summer but he opted to look elsewhere. However, if he continues to be frustrated in his pursuit of a suitable alternative, a 2021 return to a former target should not be discounted.
Van Dijk moved for relative pennies on more than one occasion before sealing the huge move that took him out off United’s radar forever.
If Salisu follows the same route, Solskjaer and Ed Woodward will not want to miss out on another potential superstar.