Manchester United END their pursuit of Marko Arnautovic after fans complain about a deal for the controversial striker… with Erik ten Hag’s pursuit of the striker continuing
- Manchester United have pulled out of their pursuit of Austrian Marko Arnautovic
- The Premier League side had been looking to bolster their options up front
- But new boss Erik ten Hag will now have to turn to alternative targets
Manchester United have abandoned their pursuit of Marko Arnautovic amid backlash from fans but are close to signing Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot in a £19.5m deal.
Arnautovic emerged as an impact target for United at the weekend as new manager Erik ten Hag looks to strengthen his attack before the end of the transfer window.
United saw Arnautovic as a cut-price option but decided not to meet Bologna’s demands for the Austrian striker after rejecting an initial bid of £7.5m.
Manchester United have pulled out of the race to sign Marko Arnautovic (pictured)
But new manager Erik ten Hag (pictured) will now have to turn to alternative attacking targets
The decision is also understood to have been influenced by backlash from fans who were dismayed to see United pursue a 33-year-old playing in China after leaving the Premier League three years ago.
Arnautovic has also had disciplinary problems, including being handed a one-match UEFA Euro 2020 ban last summer for directing an anti-Albanian slur at North Macedonia’s Ezgjan Alioski. The former West Ham and Stoke striker, who played under Ten Hag and his United number 2 Steve McClaren at FC Twente 12 years ago, later denied he was a racist.
United will now look elsewhere for a new striker and have been linked with a move for £35m-rated PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo.
The 33-year-old Austrian (right) caught the eye after scoring 14 goals in 33 appearances last campaign
The 23-year-old Dutch international scored 21 goals for PSV last season. Gakpo is a cheaper option than Ajax winger Antony, who played for Ten Hag in Holland.
United have also been monitoring Stuttgart target Sasa Kalajdzic after considering Red Bull Salzburg striker Benjamin Sesko and Ajax striker Brian Brobbey.
Ten Hag’s other priority position after Sunday’s defeat at home to Brighton is defensive midfield, and United are progressing with a deal to sign Rabiot. A fee of £15m rising to £19.5m has been agreed with Juventus, and United are in talks with Rabiot’s agent and mother on personal terms.
Ten Hag are understood to have spoken to the 27-year-old on Monday and are interested in a move to Old Trafford which could happen before United’s second leg at Brentford on Saturday.
United sources insist Rabiot has been on their wishlist all summer and the signing of the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder does not rule out the arrival of Ten Hag’s No.1 target Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona.
Rabiot’s arrival could hasten James Garner’s exit from Old Trafford. Nottingham Forest are keen to sign Garner on a permanent deal after having the 21-year-old on loan last season.
Meanwhile, former United striker Javier Hernandez says the club must let Ten Hag do it without comparing himself to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hernandez, who was part of Ferguson’s last two title-winning teams in 2011 and 2013, now plays for LA Galaxy in the MLS.
“United need to get over the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has gone,” he said. ‘Replacing a man like that is not easy. It’s like winning the lottery. So United have to adapt and allow the next manager to do it his way.”
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