Manchester United might have made a big transfer mistake by not trying harder to sign Paulo Dybala in 2019, with the Argentine forward reportedly set to join Barcelona in a swap deal.
Dybala was widely reported to have been in advanced talks with United over a move two years ago but the transfer did not happen.
The 27-year-old had just finished a relatively disappointing personal campaign with Juventus, scoring just five times in Serie A during 2018/19.
However, he managed just as many goals in only nine Champions League appearances as Juve reached the quarter-final.
United wanted to sign Dybala and send Romelu Lukaku to the Italian side during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first summer transfer window.
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However, it means that United’s interest in Dybala is finally over and suggests that they have moved on to other targets, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland both widely linked.
Red Devils forward Edinson Cavani has signed a new one-year and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will instead likely target a centre forward next summer, when Haaland’s £64m release clause becomes active.
Kane will also have entered the final two years of his deal at Spurs.
Italian outlet Calcio Mercato reported in 2019 that Dybala’s agent was in advanced talks with United over the deal but Dybala personally asked him to pull out.
Dybala has never explained his change of heart but did reveal that he was close to leaving and was in talks with United in an interview conducted last year.
“It was more or less last year at this point when Juventus didn’t want to count on me, didn’t want me to continue playing here,” he told CNN in January 2020.
“That’s when I was contacted and there were some clubs that were interested in me.
“Among those were Manchester United and Tottenham. I think for a long time there were conversations, then Paris Saint-Germain also appeared.
“I did not speak directly to any of them, but there were conversations with the clubs. However, my intention at the time was to stay.
“I hadn’t had a good year or a positive last six months, so I didn’t want to leave with that image because I think I had given the club a lot of nice moments and it wasn’t fair that I went like this.
“So I also communicated that my intention was to stay, work to grow and give my best here.
“Obviously it was not easy because Juventus’ intentions were different, but after the market closed, there was no more time and with the arrival of [head coach, Maurizio] Sarri I grew a lot.
“The team started playing football much better and that made me stay and have had a great year until today.”