Man Utd rejected £2.5m chance to sign £54m target as Murtough in talks to beat Chelsea, Liverpool

Will Ford
Man Utd football director John Murtough and new manager Erik ten Hag.
John Murtough looks set to follow Richard Arnold out of Man Utd.

Manchester United reportedly snubbed the chance to sign £54m target Benjamin Sesko three years ago, seeing the then £2.5m asking price as ‘excessive’.

Sesko has emerged as an option for United in recent weeks, having impressed for RB Salzburg last season, with ten goals and seven assists in 36 appearances across all competitions.

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It was reported last week – after a tongue-in-cheek tweet from Salzburg claiming the 19-year-old would cost United £300m and Bruno Fernandes – that the Red Devils were ‘ready to make an official offer’.

And The Athletic have confirmed that football director John Murtough met with Sesko’s agent last Wednesday and ‘more talks are planned’ over the 19-year-old.

United face competition from Chelsea, with owner Todd Boehly also said to have met the teenager’s representatives, and Liverpool, who saw the striker’s quality first hand after he scored and impressed in a preseason friendly against them. Jurgen Klopp is said to be ‘in love’ with Sesko.

This appears to have been backed up by Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, who tweeted on Wednesday that ‘two more clubs’ have entered the race and that United must be “fast on this deal”.

It’s United, Fabrizio, so we won’t hold our breath.

Romano tweeted: ‘Key days for Benjamin Šeško’s future with contacts ongoing. Manchester United know they have to be fast on this deal, after meeting with agent days ago. #MUFC There are 2 more clubs in the race. Sedko will make a decision soon with his agent and family.’

Such interest from top clubs is likely to ramp up the price of Sesko, whom staff at Salzburg believe ‘could be even better than Erling Haaland – they’re ‘not willing sellers’.

Reports have quoted figures of around £55m, though Salzburg are yet to set an asking price.

That will feel particularly steep for United, given that, according to The Athletic, they had the chance to sign Sesko when he was back at Slovenian club Domzale in 2019 and at that time viewed a £2.5m price as ‘excessive’.

Should United make a move for Sesko this summer, sources ‘do not believe he should be relied upon to produce immediately in the Premier League’.

But experienced alternatives are thin on the ground and the focus remains on bringing Frenkie de Jong to the club.

It’s claimed, contrary to reports, that United chiefs believe De Jong is willing to join the club and his current reticence is ‘financial rather than emotional’ as he waits to be paid the wages he’s owed by Barcelona.