Manchester United's hopes of beating Liverpool to a deal for Darwin Nunez earlier this year were unexpectedly and bizarrely dashed – after Benfica president Rui Costa postponed a transfer meeting due to food poisoning.
United were one of a host of top European clubs who were mulling over a mega-money move for Nunez, who struck an incredible 26 league goals in 28 games for the Portuguese giants last year. But it was Liverpool who beat their Premier League rivals to a deal for the 22-year-old who put pen-to-paper at Anfield last week.
Almost a week on from Nunez's £85million switch to the Reds, fresh details have emerged about the deal – including how United's hopes of stealing a march in the race for the Uruguayan hotshot were dented by an unusual excuse.
According to The Athletic, the United hierarchy were set to hold talks with Costa before Nunez bagged goals in both legs of Benfica's Champions League quarter-final clash with Liverpool. However, the meeting was postponed due to Costa and his family being struck down with food poisoning – an excuse that United were 'unconvinced' with.
United apparently saw the story as a snub as they tried to strike an early deal for Nunez. The report also outlines that United's hopes of beating Jurgen Klopp's side to a deal were not helped by the fact that the Reds had already made headway in race for the striker's signature by the time that Erik ten Hag had been officially handed the top job at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag is now believed to have prioritised other signings ahead of a new striker this summer, with the Dutchman currently focusing on improving United's midfield options.
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United have been chasing a deal for Frenkie de Jong all summer, while the club has also been linked with various other players who have worked with Ten Hag previously.
Ajax duo Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez have also emerged as potential targets for Ten Hag as he bids to beef up a squad that limped to a sixth-placed finish last term.
Although he is currently prioritising other areas of the United squad, it remains to be seen if Ten Hag will attempt to find another striker to ease the goalscoring burden on Cristiano Ronaldo before the summer is out.
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