Why didn’t Man Utd try to sign Moussa Dembele?

Stefan Bienkowski
Stefan Bienkowski
  • Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST
  • 3 min read
Why didn’t Man Utd try to sign Moussa Dembele?

Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is set to join Spanish giants Atletico Madrid on loan for the remainder of the season, with a further option to buy the forward for €33 million at the end of the season. 

Dembele is expected to make the move south as Atletico’s replacement for Diego Costa, who was released by the club this month. 

According to Marca, the player is expected to complete his deal with the capital side shortly and arrive on Tuesday.

However, despite Dembele’s poor form this season in Ligue 1, the terms Atletico have managed to agree for the French striker still seem remarkable. 

And while it now seems certain that the next chapter in Dembele’s career will be based in Spain, some Manchester United fans may be forgiven for wondering why their own club weren’t able to jump on this momentary discount on a top talent. 


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  • PlayerGoals this season
    Marcus Rashford14
    Anthony Martial5
    Edinson Cavani4
    Mason Greenwood3
    Daniel James2

    Did Man United need Dembele?

    Having been linked with a move for the striker since his departure from Celtic in 2018, Man United’s forward line has gone through a number of changes. 

    The club signed Daniel James from Swansea in 2019 for £16 million and then picked up Edinson Cavani on a free transfer the following summer. 

    When we then couple that with the emergence of Mason Greenwood, the improving performances of Marcus Rashford and the fact that Anthony Martial was already on the books at Old Trafford, it does suggest on paper that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of firepower to work with. 

    However in reality the situation is a little more complicated than that. For example, James has managed just two goals in 10 appearances this season, while Greenwood has bagged just three in 19. Similarly, Cavani and Martial have both scored a combined nine goals in 34 appearances between them.

    When we look at the numbers, it’s quite easy to deduce that the only forward at Man Utd that seems to be performing this season is Rashford, who himself has still only managed 14 goals in 27 appearances. Not bad, but certainly not great.

    As such, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to then assume that a proven goalscorer would be relatively high on the club’s list of priorities either in this window or the next. 

    Solskjaer has previously stated that the Old Trafford side are unlikely to do much business in the January window, but this is where Atletico’s remarkable deal for Dembele then comes into play. 

    Even if United had no intention of spending much money in January, a deal along the same lines as the one Atletico got from Lyon would ensure the Premier League giants got their new forward with very little financial risk. 

    Dembele would have undoubtedly arrived at Old Trafford with a point to prove after just one goal in 16 games in the French top flight this season, but that’s no different to what he’ll now have to do at Atletico. 

    Of course, it’s more than likely that he’ll do just that and the Spanish club will get their new striker for a remarkable cut-down price. It’s just odd that United where nowhere to be seen when this deal was being done.