The four players set to command nine-figure transfers this summer were all once of major interest to Manchester United. United rolled out the red carpet for Jude Bellingham at Carrington, the club were in discussions to sign Moises Caicedo, Declan Rice asked Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the club and Harry Kane was Erik ten Hag’s preferred striker target. Three are midfielders United never seriously considered bidding for this summer as each was regarded as a budget-buster. Well-placed sources at United insist the approach for Caicedo was genuine. Caicedo just happened to be Chelsea’s prime midfield target during an impasse over Mason Mount. Caicedo is now seemingly bound for Liverpool in a British record £110million deal. “The day that this is football, then I’m not in a job anymore,” a manager lamented of United’s world record acquisition of Paul Pogba seven years ago. ” Other clubs can spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I had that money.” The manager was Jurgen Klopp. Also read: Kovar to leave United in €9m deal Klopp had no qualms about investing record fees for a defender and a goalkeeper as far back as 2018. Jose Mourinho was reminded of this on United’s tour of the United States that summer. “I’m also happy to smile and to see that, you know, you can change your opinion and change as a person. Is funny. But that’s okay.” Liverpool would have a stellar midfield with Caicedo, another to get away from United. The negotiations for Caicedo in January 2021 were compromised by the involvement of various intermediaries and a source told the Manchester Evening News the deal became “too messy” for United to proceed. Another source revealed Caicedo was willing to work with whoever could engineer a transfer to United and described negotiations as a “clusterf—“. United were wary of the number of intermediaries at an early stage and Caicedo eventually moved to Brighton for around €6m. When United passed on Caicedo, a club source bullishly claimed the money could be saved and spent on another target. That proclamation has not aged well. In all four matches Caicedo has started against United, he has strolled off the pitch as the best player. He started the ball rolling in the infamous 4-0 thrashing at the Amex in May 2022 and Ten Hag never started Scott McTominay and Fred together again after they were outclassed by Caicedo in the first fixture of last season. “His first-half performance was so impressive,” the then-Brighton coach Graham Potter purred afterwards. “He’s not that old, he’s still adapting and learning but he’s got great qualities, he’s a fantastic kid… You can see his quality today.” Caicedo was the man of the match in the tense FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in April and he excelled again at the Amex as Brighton completed the league double over United in May. Casemiro, the most esteemed defensive midfielder of his generation, was reduced to lunging at Caicedo. United will need to freshen their midfield again next year, possibly before this transfer window closes if there is movement on McTominay. Sofyan Amrabat, worthy addition he might be, is not currently in the class of Caicedo, Bellingham or Rice.Story SavedYou can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.