Russia international striker Fedor Smolov.
Russian Roulette

Agent claims Manchester United were close to signing Smolov before Sanchez

The Red Devils were in the market for attacking reinforcements during the January 2018 transfer window.

MANCHESTER UNITED INITIALLY had Fedor Smolov above Alexis Sanchez on their list of transfer priorities, according to the Russian forward’s agent, with a deal almost done after the Red Devils failed to land Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann.

Those at Old Trafford looked to Europe for attacking inspiration before and during the winter window of 2018.

The plan was to land a marquee signing, with superstar figures plying their trade at Juventus and Atletico Madrid featuring prominently on the recruitment radar.

Dybala and Griezmann – who is now at Barcelona – proved to be out of reach, forcing United to turn their attention elsewhere.

Smolov, then on the books at Krasnodar and readying himself for a star showing at the 2018 World Cup with the host nation, was among those United considered bringing on board.

Initial discussions were not followed up though once it became apparent that Chile international Sanchez could be lured away from an expiring contract at Premier League rivals Arsenal.

The South American arrived at Old Trafford amid much fanfare, but struggled to make his mark and is currently nursing a knock during a loan spell at Serie A giants Inter.

Things could have played out very differently for United had they pressed ahead with a bid for Smolov, with the 29-year-old’s representative ultimately taking his client to Lokomotiv Moscow.

German Tkachenko told Championat of a frontman who also sparked talk of interest from Borussia Dortmund and West Ham United: “When we were dealing with the transfer, Manchester United emerged as a surprise option and their interest was real.

“They were looking for a striker and they had two main targets in Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann. They were seeing us as an alternative option.

“When it was clear both players wouldn’t be joining them, we brought him onto the scene. We discussed the wages, agency fees, advertising and other details. Everything was ready but United took Alexis and our move fell through.”

Sanchez has managed just five goals in 45 appearances for United, with it difficult to see any future for him at Old Trafford despite being tied to a contract through to the summer of 2022.

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