Why Man Utd didn’t act on their interest in Manuel Akanji has been revealed, and their inaction is making Man City’s move look like a masterstroke following an untimely injury.
The Red Devils were linked with a move for the then-Borussia Dortmund centre-half early in the summer window. Akanji’s time in Germany appeared up and the Swiss international’s outstanding passing abilities made him a good for for new boss Erik ten Hag.
However, a move failed to get off the ground and for the longest time, Akanji seemed destined to remain where he was.
But Man City ultimately had other ideas, swooping in to sign the 27-year-old on deadline day.
The £15m move raised eyebrows in some quarters, especially as Pep Guardiola already had four established centre-halves to call upon.
Ruben Dias and John Stones provided his right-footed options. Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake compete for the left side.
Furthermore, Akanji also holds a wretched injury record in recent times. Since the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign, the defender missed 20 matches at Dortmund through illness or injury.
Regardless, Akanji has already surpassed expectations at City, starting three from a possible five matches.
Signalling how highly he is thought of by Guardiola, Akanji got the nod in both Champions League ties against Sevilla and former club Dortmund.
Now, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has explained why a move to Man Utd never got airborne.
Man Utd exit halted transfer interest
Via Caught Offside, Romano stated Akanji was strongly admired by former interim boss, Ralf Rangnick.
The German gave way to Ten Hag over the summer, though was expected to take up an advisory role upstairs.
However, that plan was ditched, with Rangnick going on to take the Austria national team job. When Rangnick departed, interest in bringing Akanji to Old Trafford went with him.
“This summer, Manuel Akanji was also an option for Man United’s defence,” said Romano.
“However, it didn’t happen because he was mainly admired by Ralf Rangnick, who then left his position at Old Trafford.
“City then moved for him late on in the window.”
Akanji coup assumes greater importance
If Akanji’s signing didn’t already look like smart business, a recent injury has heightened its appeal even further.
John Stones suffered a hamstring injury during England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday night.
With Laporte still searching for full fitness and yet to feature this season, Akanji may feature more than even he could’ve expected this season.
Transfer miss not the end of the world for Man Utd
Manchester United did not emerge from the summer window empty handed at centre-half.
Lisandro Martinez arrived from Ajax in a deal that could rise above £55m pending add-ons.
The Argentine has slotted in seamlessly at Man Utd, something that shouldn’t be a surprise given he’s playing for the same manager he had at Ajax.
His partnership with Raphael Varane has also showed early signs of promise.
Even if Harry Maguire weren’t struggling for form, it’s likely he’d be settling for a place on the bench anyway.