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OIe Gunnar Solskjaer has shared the names of the five superstars he looked into buying whilst at the helm of Manchester United in a new interview with The Athletic.
The United legend was originally named as an interim choice following the bitter dismissal of Jose Mourinho in 2018, but after a string of impressive form, was appointed formally to the role of head coach four months later.
During his tenure – which ran out after an ignominious 4-1 loss to Watford in 2021 – the former Molde coach oversaw a number of arrivals at Old Trafford with some, such as Bruno Fernandes, making a lasting impact on the squad.
But speaking in his first interview since his dismissal, Solskjaer was keen to share the ones that got away from him – and could have played a key role in reversing United’s fortunes.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed the transfer difficulties he found as Man United manager
The Norwegian head coach brought in a number of new players, such as Jadon Sancho
Jude Bellingham was described by Solskjaer as a ‘United player’ but instead chose Dortmund
When asked about whether the role of head coach at United was an impossible one, Solskjaer was realistic, calling the task ‘difficult’, and citing the financial restraints around bringing in new players.
The Norwegian first named his compatriot, Erling Haaland, at the top of his wish list, who he eyed ‘before he made his Salzburg debut’.
‘Declan Rice, who wouldn’t have cost what he did in the summer,’ Solskjaer continued.
‘We discussed Moises Caicedo, but we felt we needed players ready for there and then. Brighton are very good at letting players come from abroad and find their feet for a year and a half. At United, you don’t have that luxury and that has cost the club loads of players.
‘We wanted Jude Bellingham badly – he’s a Man United player, but I respect he chose Dortmund. That was probably sensible.’
Instead, Haaland was snapped up by Borussia Dortmund, before being snagged by United’s crosstown rivals Manchester City in the summer of 2022 for what seems like an eye-poppingly inexpensive fee of £51million.
United mulled over a move for Rice during this summer’s transfer window, but the former West Ham captain had his heart set on featuring for Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta’s side breaking their transfer record for the £100m player.
The signing of Caicedo – who was featuring for Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle when under consideration by the then-United coach – became one of the major stories of summer 2023 with his record-busting £115m transfer from Brighton to Chelsea.
The midfielder joined the west London club after a late bid from rivals Liverpool for £113m, which was snubbed by the player keen to turn out under Mauricio Pochettino.
Solskjaer added that under the circumstances, he respected players players he signed such as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Dan James, and Jadon Sancho, singling them out as ‘young players prepared to come into a team that wasn’t 100 per cent there like it was when I arrived’.
‘I would have signed (Harry) Kane every day of the week and my understanding was that he wanted to come,’ the former manager continued, namechecking one of United’s No 1 transfer targets of the last window.
‘But the club didn’t have the budget with the financial constraints from Covid-19’.
Erling Haaland also moved to Dortmund from Salzburg, before signing for United’s rivals City
Bellingham has since had an explosive start to his life in Real Madrid after signing this summer
Solskjaer revealed he also looked into signing Harry Kane, but the cost made a deal impossible
Mail Sport reported on Tuesday that the newly minted Bayern Munich player indeed wanted to book a move to Old Trafford, and was prepared to wait out the final 12 months of his contract at Tottenham to join the club as a free agent in 2024.
But the club’s signing of young striker Rasmus Hojlund for £72m is thought to have shifted his interest elsewhere, with the England captain joining Bayern at the start of their campaign in a close to £100m deal.
Kane has since shown signs of settling nicely in Bavaria, scoring four goals in his first five matches under head coach Thomas Tuchel.
Erik ten Hag will get the chance to see what he might have missed out on by losing the player on Wednesday evening, with the two teams meeting in Munich at the Allianz Arena in their first Champions League clash of the campaign.
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