Marko Arnautovic is sealing his return to Inter Milan one year after Premier League giants Manchester United pulled out of a deal amid fan fury over the striker’s potential arrival.

Now, Red Devils supporters could accept a Cristiano Ronaldo, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic or an Edinson Cavani. Even an Odion Ighalo, to some extent, given his very obvious adoration for all things Manchester United and the difficulties of the January market.

But Marko Arnautovic was where a disillusioned fanbase drew the line.

Bologna FC v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

As reported by Sky Sports, a number of former Man United players even went as far as to contact the club in order to warn them off a potential £7.6 million deal for a 33-year-old forward who had departed West Ham in highly-controversial circumstances only a few windows earlier, and who could hardly be placed among Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Cavani in the pantheon of modern-day greats.

Manchester United called off Marko Arnautovic deal

“Desperate,” an exasperated Gary Neville told Sky following that opening day defeat to Brighton in August 2022. “It’s a pattern. (Signing 30-plus centre-forwards) is happening time and time again.

“I don’t even get angry or animated about it anymore.”

You could not say the same, of course, about an increasingly vocal section of the United fanbase. Bringing in Arnautovic in the same summer that Erling Haaland landed at Manchester City would, in the eyes of many, come to symbolise the entire Glazer regime. Desperate quick-fixes prioritised over long-term solutions.

In stark contrast, the £64 million signing of Rasmus Hojlund 12 months on – United’s youngest striker addition since Romelu Lukaku six years earlier – is testament to just how much has changed behind the scenes regarding United’s transfer strategy in the Erik ten Hag – John Murtough era, even if the Glazers continue to cling onto their cash cow.

Arnautovic returns to Inter Milan

As for Arnautovic, the experienced Austrian is finally putting pen to paper with one of Europe’s top clubs after all. He was pictured receiving a far warmer greeting at Inter Milan’s training ground on Wednesday; Bologna agreeing a £9 million deal with the Champions League runners-up (Tuttomercatoweb).

“The Austrian is an excellent striker,” veteran reporter Massimo Marianella tells Sky Italia. “He doesn’t go to Milan to be the starter. I think he will be the alternative to Lautaro (Martinez), who is one of the best in the world.”

Arnautovic, who spent a brief spell at Inter under Jose Mourinho a decade ago, returns to Inter having scored 25 Serie A goals in two seasons at Bologna.

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