Manchester United missed out on the signing of Liverpool’s imperious centre-back Virgil van Dijk in 2017, per The Times.
United attempted to secure Van Dijk’s signature prior to his move to Anfield from Southampton, which ultimately cost the Reds £75million, a world-record fee for a defender.
The Times claim that United made a phone call to Southampton to enquire about the Netherlands international’s availability.
He had already completed his medical at Liverpool, however, and ultimately signed on the dotted line at Anfield.
Van Dijk has enjoyed a world-class season at Anfield with the Reds still fighting to win their very first Premier League title of the modern era.
It is said that a number of clubs explored the possibility of signing the Dutchman, but only United’s attempt was quite so bungled.
Arsenal considered a move, per The Times, but pulled out when the bidding reached £50m, while then-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wanted the club to pursue a move, though the Blues board would not sanction such an outlay. City, meanwhile, signed Aymeric Laporte instead.
Ed Woodward is very good at securing commercial deals for Manchester United. The executive vice-chairman of the club, he has secured an official tyre partner, an official wine partner and an official global mattress and pillow partner, among many others.
He is not so good at securing footballers.
Van Dijk is a colossus of a centre-half and has enjoyed a breathtaking emergence at Liverpool. He has yet to even be dribbled past by an attacking player this season, though that may change when he faces Lionel Messi this week.
United, meanwhile, have Chris Smalling and Phil Jones continuing to outdo each other in the farcical performances stakes.
Had Van Dijk ended up at Old Trafford instead of Anfield, perhaps United would be involved in this title race. That, of course, is a stretch but it speaks to his impact on the club.
That Woodward made a phone call while Van Dijk was going through his paces with Liverpool is a joke and speaks to the dysfunction currently gripping the club.
United are continuing to search for a technical director – reports claim that Mike Phelan could be offered the role – and that appointment cannot come around soon enough.
This case study alone should be enough for Woodward to receive his P45.