Manchester United reportedly had a bid for Jose Gimenez ‘laughed off’ by Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone when Jose Mourinho was in charge of the Red Devils.
Mourinho wanted to strengthen his defensive options in the summer of 2018, despite having already added Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof to his squad during his tenure.
United had just finished second in the Premier League behind rivals Manchester City and the Portuguese head coach devised a plan to go one better the following campaign.
However, the summer did not entirely go to plan as the club missed out on several key targets.
It was clear that Mourinho wanted a centre-back during the transfer window but one did not arrive.
The Old Trafford outfit pushed hard to sign Toby Alderweireld from Tottenham but a move did not materialise.
Mourinho also wanted Uruguay international Gimenez and approached Atletico boss Simeone with an offer, only to have it laughed off according to National News Sport.
United eventually spent over £70million that summer but none of it was put towards a centre-back.
Instead, young right-back Diogo Dalot arrived from Porto for around £20m while the controversial £53m signing of midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk was also sanctioned.
Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly started the season as Mourinho’s preferred defensive pairing but the disappointing transfer business led to a poor start to the campaign.
United won just seven of their opening 17 matches and Mourinho was dismissed following a 3-1 defeat against Liverpool in December.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Mourinho’s replacement following a short stint as interim head coach and the club’s results improved, although a poor end to the campaign meant they finished sixth.
Having signed Bruno Fernandes in January, the Norwegian’s first summer transfer business was to overhaul the defence that had failed Mourinho and still looked shaky during Solskjaer’s first few months.
United spent a combined £130m on right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace and centre-back Harry Maguire from Leicester City.
Maguire was an £80m arrival and immediately improved the Red Devils’ defence. He has since been made club captain.
Two years on, Solskjaer is seeking an improved partner for Maguire after Lindelof and Bailly struggled for form during the 2020-21 campaign.
United have gone back to Madrid to find their primary target but are instead trying to buy a player from Atletico’s rivals Real Madrid.
They have reportedly made an offer for Los Blancos defender Raphael Varane. Express Sport reported on Wednesday that discussions over a move for the Frenchman remain ongoing.
Solskjaer has already signed Tom Heaton on a free transfer from Aston Villa this summer and confirmation of Jadon Sancho’s £73m switch from Borussia Dortmund is expected soon.
Like in the summer of 2018, United are trying to topple Man City at the top-flight summit having finished runners-up last term.
However, they were 12 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s champions and a big summer improvement of Solskjaer’s squad has been planned.