The truth of why Arnautovic transfer to Man Utd collapsed

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 29 Sep 2022 14:36 BST
  • 3 min read
FT Desk 29 Sep 2022 14:36 BST 3 min read
Marko Arnautovic in action for Bologna

Manchester United were linked with a move for Marko Arnautovic this summer, but the move fell through, with United fan protests cited as a reason why by some of the British press.

United chief executive Richard Arnold was reportedly inundated with complaints from fans after Erik ten Hag identified Arnautovic as a potential cut-price option to lead his new look attack.

Cristiano Ronaldo ended up staying at Old Trafford having been desperate to leave for a Champions League club, but Ten Hag has instead leant on Marcus Rashford as his starting striker, and been repaid with three goals and two assists from his six Premier League games.

Arnautovic has enjoyed an even more impressive return in Serie A this season, with six goals and an assist from his seven games despite Bologna being 16th in the table. Sporting director Marco Di Vaio says the Austrian was never going anywhere.

"We did great work with Marko," he explained to Corriere Dello Sport. "We've always shown how much we trust him. Juventus never made a direct request, but United did. They didn't pull out because of their fans, only because Arnautovic understood how important he was for Bologna's project.

Arnautovic 'a true champion'

"He behaved like a true champion, understanding what he meant to Bologna as a city and a club. He's a reference point on and off the pitch. I'm surprised by how involved he is. He's helping young players. He has an 'English' approach. He always gives his all."

Asked if he ever feared losing his star player, the former Italy striker was unequivocal.

"No," he said. "We'd have been ready to fight for him, but luckily Marko never let us get to that point."

Ten Hag's predecessor Ralf Ragnick was reportedly "baffled" that the Old Trafford hierarchy had identified Arnautovic as a possible signing, but the forward subsequently scored in the coach's first match in charge of Austria after leaving United.