How Man Utd missed out on Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk transfers
Liverpool’s recruitment during the last six or seven years has revolutionized the club, with the Reds seen as a forerunner in terms of transfer policy.
Manchester United, on the other hand, is anything but, with a lackluster decision being a major factor for their demise and following troubles. While their main opponents have assembled a team with a defined vision in mind and a smart salary structure, the Red Devils have seen signing after signing fail to live up to expectations.
They appear to be on the verge of losing Paul Pogba, their £89 million record signing, for nothing this summer. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, and Dan James, all of whom were signed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have either failed to make an impact or have already left Old Trafford.
When it comes to attracting players, United’s plan has left a lot to be desired. Big names have come and gone, while some they didn’t get have gone on to do big things and have significant influences. Several of them have done so near Anfield.
Several pioneers of Jurgen Klopp’s strong side, which could yet win the quadruple this season, have been named to the Old Trafford shortlist. However, due to their market failures, all of them have fallen by the wayside, with Liverpool now reaping the advantages.
Many consider Virgil van Dijk to be the catalyst on Merseyside. He joined in January 2018, and the Reds were in the Champions League final five months later. They were European champions 12 months later, and Premier League champions a year after.
A last-minute United move
On December 27, 2017, Liverpool announced the signing of the Dutch center-half. Van Dijk had made it known the previous summer that he intended to move on, with some of England’s best clubs interested. Manchester City was among those seeking the hit, but its neighbors also got in on the action.
According to the Daily Mail, rather than identifying the defender early on and making the necessary moves to get him, United attempted a late lunge to capture Van Dijk. They did so on the same day he had his Liverpool physical, but they couldn’t beat their rivals to the punch.
Jose Mourinho made it clear six months later that he wanted a center-half, only months before he was fired. United failed to meet his request before allowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to spend a world-record sum for Maguire.
Mane, Klopp’s man
Sadio Mane was Klopp’s first high-profile signing. He joined Southampton for £34 million in 2016 after impressing throughout his two seasons at St Mary’s. His performances piqued the interest of United, whose public profile was highly recognized.
The Manchester club held negotiations with Mane when Louis van Gaal was in charge, but an intervention from Klopp was essential in convincing the Senegal star that Anfield was a better alternative for him. “Yes, I was really, extremely close because I even met up with them,” he previously stated. So I was on my way, I arrived, and I spoke with the boss who had arrived earlier (Van Gaal).
“They made an offer, but Klopp contacted me the next week.” ‘I think it’s the right club,’ he added. The right coach for me, and I believe it is best for me to move to Liverpool’. I believe it was also the ideal time for me. ‘I’m going to Liverpool,’ I said.”
In the same summer that Mane joined Liverpool, United signed Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund. Despite being highly rated, the Armenian lasted only 18 months before being part of a disastrous trade deal that included Alexis Sanchez.
Firmino goes the extra mile
It’s easy to forget that Roberto Firmino was a Brendan Rodgers signing, given how well he fits Klopp’s system and style. The now-Luton City manager didn’t get to enjoy the Brazilian for long before he was fired. Firmino cost £29 million to sign from Hoffenheim.
According to estimates, United could have signed the forward for just over £13 million. While Firmino was on international duty, a Manchester medical was scheduled, giving Liverpool time to persuade the striker to reconsider his mind.
After speaking with Firmino’s agent, former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre decided to fly to South America to steal the deal. “He said to me: ‘We will have to sit down and chat more — do you want to come out here?'” Ayre told the Daily Mail. ‘I’ve arrived in Santiago.’ ‘Sure, no problem,’ I replied.”
United’s forward issues have persisted over the years, to the point that they now rely on 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, whom everyone acknowledges is a short-term answer to a long-term problem. Players such as Romelu Lukaku have come and gone, but the Reds have now identified a suitable replacement for Firmino in Diogo Jota.