Tom Cleverley’s failed move to Aston Villa in 2014 was the reason Manchester United blocked Everton from signing Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero in the past 15-months.
According to the Daily Mail, the Red Devils continue to hold bad blood with Everton over their failure to sell Cleverley to Aston Villa six years ago, having agreed to sell the midfielder for £7.5million.
A late approach from the Blues whilst Cleverley was en route for his medical at Villa Park threw a spanner into the works, however, as rejecting their £5.5m offer meant United could not complete the paperwork needed and Villa’s deal ultimately fell through.
Cleverley instead joined the Birmingham-based outfit on a season-long loan, before then signing for Everton as a free agent the following year. This is said to have angered the Glazer family, who continue to hold a grudge against the Toffees and played a key role in their hopes of signing Rojo and Romero collapsing.
Romero believed he was set for a move to Goodison Park this summer after agreeing to a pay cut having fallen down the Old Trafford pecking order upon Dean Henderson’s return, but United demanded a £3m loan fee despite not requesting any compensation from other clubs.
It was the second time in 15-months that Everton failed to get a deal with United across the line, after missing out on Rojo when they failed with a £22m bid before agreeing a loan deal. Yet no move occurred, as the Toffees felt the Red Devils moved the goalposts by demanding a fee.
Relationships between Everton and Manchester United were strained further on Wednesday, when the Blues decided to call off Women’s Continental Tyres Cup tie at short notice amid concerns over the Red Devils’ Walton Hall Park stadium.
Rojo was targeted amid Marco Silva’s search for defensive reinforcements but no centre-half was ultimately acquired before the 2019 summer window slammed shut, leaving the Portuguese coach with Yerry Mina and Michael Keane as his first-choice options.
Mason Holgate had just arrived back at Goodison Park following a loan spell with West Bromwich Albion, where he had played all 19 of his Championship appearances either at full-back or right-midfield.
The Doncaster-born defender’s trend of playing out of position continued when fielded at right-back from the bench against Watford in August 2019, but ultimately got his chance to play at centre-half in October following a knee injury for Mina.
Holgate, rated at £16.2m by Transfermarkt, grabbed his opportunity with both hands and instantly established himself as one of Silva’s favourite players, and continued to impress following Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival to end the campaign with 2,053 minutes of Premier League action to his name.
His turn of form to become an established first-choice defender sparked interest from elsewhere, with Newcastle United said to have considered a £14m approach as Steve Bruce eyed a double swoop on Goodison Park to solve his defensive plans.
Bruce particularly admired Holgate’s versatility, which is something Ancelotti has missed this term with the 24-year-old only returning from a toe injury this week in order to start against Manchester United.
Silva may never have given Holgate his chance to establish a role in the first-team had relationships between Everton and Manchester United not been so strained, and Ancelotti will undoubtedly be grateful the Red Devils’ hurdles prevented Rojo from moving to Merseyside.