Bologna’s director of football Marco Di Vaio has revealed the true reason Marko Arnautovic didn’t swap the Italian club for Manchester United in the summer.
The Red Devils were looking for a new striker in August as they were unsure whether Cristiano Ronaldo would remain at Old Trafford past the transfer deadline. They began to consider a move for Arnautovic on August 6.
They made an offer for the 33-year-old attacker the following day, which came in at £7.2million (€8.5m). However, Bologna were protected by Arnautovic’s two-year contract and pushed the bid back.
The player’s brother and agent confirmed talks were underway by saying: “It’s true that there’s a bid from a well-known club. I’m in contact with Bologna to see if that can be realised.”
Arnautovic was ‘extremely keen’ to join Manchester United at that point. Erik ten Hag’s side were preparing to launch a second move for him, only to pull the plug on the pursuit.
Plenty of United fans had got in contact with the club to express their concern about signing the former Stoke and West Ham man.
Arnautovic has twice been accused of racism in his career, with the incidents dating back to 2009 and Euro 2020. He has denied both claims.
However, United supporters did not think Arnautovic was the right player for the club and this, alongside Bologna’s rising demands, saw the transfer fall through.
This will have been music to the ears of Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, as he didn’t believe signing Arnautovic was the right move.
Gary Neville expresses concern over Marko Arnautovic
The former United star said: “We’ve seen it with Falcao, Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Ighalo – these desperate, sort of experienced signings.
“We’ve seen it now for eight or 10 years, it’s a pattern, it’s happening time and time again. We don’t even get angry, we don’t even get animated about it anymore. It’s got to the point where I don’t even want to comment about it.”
Di Vaio has given Bologna’s side of the story during an interview with Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport. He has hit back at claims United pulled out of the transfer, instead saying the swoop failed because Arnautovic didn’t want to leave Bologna.
“We did great work with Marko. We’ve always highlighted how much we trust him,” Di Vaio said (via the Daily Mirror).
“Juventus never made a direct request, [but] United did. United didn’t retire from the race because of their fans, but only because Arnautovic understood how important he was for Bologna’s project.
Forward ‘behaved like a true champion’ – Bologna chief
“He behaved like a true champion, understanding what he meant to Bologna as a city and a club.
“He’s a point of reference on and off the pitch. I was surprised by his involvement. He’s helping young players. He has an ‘English’ approach. He always gives his all.”
Ultimately, United didn’t have to sign a new centre-forward as Ronaldo stayed at the club. Ten Hag can also use a rejuvenated Marcus Rashford to spearhead his attack.
However, the Manchester giants could probably do with adding another goalscorer to their squad next year. Ronaldo is in the twilight years of his career, after all.
With this in mind, United have found out the modest fee it will take to capture a Premier League marksman.