Man Utd could have signed £335m quartet for under £6m as report reveals recruitment blunders

Will Ford
Musiala Schmiechel Germany Denmark
Man Utd could have signed Jamal Musiala before he joined Bayern Munich from Chelsea.

Dan Ashworth will hope to make better transfer decisions than his predecessors at Manchester United, who have missed out on some great players thanks to their penny pinching.

Ashworth is set to have ‘overall responsibility for football performance, recruitment and operations’ at Old Trafford after the Red Devils fought for his release from Newcastle, which was finally confirmed earlier this week. He’s got a four-man wishlist.

He will work with new CEO Omar Berrada and Jason Wilcox, who joined as the new technical director, in the new dawn at United under co-owner and head of football operations Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who bought a 27.7 per cent stake in the club from the Glazer family in February.

‘Nominal training compensation’ for Pedro Neto

On the back of Ashworth becoming the club’s new sporting director, The Athletic has revealed some of the top players that have slipped through the United net in recent years.

Moises Caicedo – who joined Chelsea in a British record fee of £115m last summer – had been ‘monitored closely’ by the start of the January transfer window in 2021, when United were so confident of securing his signature that ‘potential loan moves for him were lined up’.

United backed away having been put off by a $2m release clause – which wasn’t seen as an obstacle – suddenly doubling to $4m in ‘a complex deal involving multiple agents’. Caicedo instead joined an Ashworth-led Brighton in the same window.

The report also claims that in 2017 recruitment staff pushed for the club to ‘pay a nominal training compensation’ to sign a 17-year-old Pedro Neto, who now stars for Wolves and Portugal and has been linked with a £60m move to the Premier League elite this summer.

But ‘those responsible for sanctioning a contract offer waited several weeks’, Neto instead signed a new contract with Braga before joining Lazio on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy.

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Missed out on Sesko for sake of €800k

United were also offered the chance to take Jamal Musiala – on Chelsea’s books at the time – on trial in early 2018 but ‘there were complications with the deal’ and, ‘conscious of regulations’, the club decided a move would be ‘too risky’. The Germany international is now valued at £100m.

Later in 2018, upon hearing that RB Salzburg had offered €2m for Benjamin Sesko director of football negotiations Matt Judge decided to increase United’s offer from €1m to €1.2m. Sesko obviously joined Salzburg, moving to Leipzig two years later and was linked with £60m moves elsewhere before deciding to stay put.

United instead signed Dillon Hoogewerf, who is currently playing for Borussia Monchengladbach’s second team.