Despite Manchester United’s interest, rival Liverpool won the race to recruit Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, one of the hottest young strikers on the market, making him a record purchase for the club. But it would not be if the meeting with Benfica President Rui Costa had not been canceled due to food poisoning.
According to The Athletic, the Red Devils were in talks with the Portuguese giants and were scheduled to meet Costa to discuss the conditions of a potential move.
This fateful game was to take place ahead of the Champions League quarter-final draw between Liverpool and Benfica.
However, the former Portuguese international and his family were hit by a serious case of food poisoning while celebrating their birthday.
🚨 Manchester United thinks Liverpool are wrong when they sign Darwin Nunez and thinks it is “reckless spending” pic.twitter.com/h14aAcl3Yg
– SPORTBible (@sportbible) June 13, 2022
This ultimately led to the proposed meeting being canceled with United feeling it was sort of an affront and were not convinced of their chances of signing Nunez.
This ultimately allowed Liverpool to run freely to their destination, and United were reluctant to start a bidding war over the Uruguayan striker.
Ten Hag late arrival and preferences
The former Almeria forward was reportedly available for around £ 45m before Benfica reached the Champions League knockout stage.
Other Premier League clubs such as West Ham were also interested in taking over the 22-year-old’s services, but the Portuguese club waited for the valuation to rise.
And it went up, with knockout goals against Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually pushing the price up to £ 85m.
The 20-time England champions have teamed up with Erik ten Hag, who was himself a huge admirer of the striker, seeing him score against his former club Ajax.
However, by the time the Dutch jumped up to Old Trafford, their Merseyside rivals were already deep in negotiations with Benfica, which meant the chances were slim.
Add to that, Ten Haga’s prioritization of midfield recruits meant that the three-time European champions were too far behind. They are currently chasing Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and free agent Christian Eriksen.
Nunez has since signed a six-year contract worth £ 150,000 a week while United are still trying to get their first signing.