Ralf Rangnick has revealed his request to sign a striker in January was rejected by Manchester United despite the interim manager wanting cover after losing Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial.
Greenwood was arrested on January 30th on suspicion of rape, assault and threats to kill and suspended indefinitely, and a few days earlier Martial had joined Sevilla on loan.
Rangnick says he had identified players including Luis Díaz, Dusan Vlahovic and River Plate's Julián Álvarez as potential January targets but that when he asked the executive to assess adding a reinforcement he was told the market was closed.
“I still believe that we should have tried in those 48 hours,” Rangnick said. “The board [at the time] sees it the same way – they agreed – but they also spoke to the scouting department at the same time. Maybe we should have tried to sign a player in these 48 hours since we knew Mason wouldn’t be available and Anthony Martial had already left on loan . . . But we didn’t. Maybe I should have pushed even more in order to get this additional striker.
“The answer at the time was: no, there is no player on the market that can really help us.”
Díaz joined Liverpool on January 30th and a day later Manchester City said they had signed Álvarez. Juventus had announced Vlahovic's arrival on January 28th.
Rangnick wonders whether United’s season could have unfolded more successfully if a forward had been added.
He said of players on his list: "There were a few: Díaz who is now at Liverpool, Álvarez who will be at Man City in the summer, Vlahovic who at the time was with Fiorentina.
"So those are just three of them that come across my mind now. The answer was no and that was it. We were still in three competitions: the FA Cup, the Champions League, at the time were fourth in the league.
“I spoke to the board and told them: ‘Shouldn’t we at least speak and analyse and find if we can at least get a player, on loan or a permanent deal?’ In the end the answer was no.
“Maybe they didn’t want to do any winter [business]. Forty-eight hours is 48 hours.
“It might have been at least worth to try and internally discuss it. We didn’t.”
It is understood that United’s policy of only signing a player in January who is a target for the summer was a factor that precluded a search for a forward.
There was a concern, too, that any addition could affect the next manager’s close-season business and make the squad even more disjointed.
There is also a questioning of Rangnick’s time frame of 48 hours to find a replacement.
United’s announced they had suspended Greenwood a little more than 31 hours before the deadline, although they had been aware of the allegations against him at least seven hours before that, and a reason why Jesse Lingard’s proposed loan move to Newcastle was not allowed was because the football department viewed him as forward cover.
Rangnick dismissed questions regarding his treatment of Lingard, who did not get a farewell Old Trafford appearance on Monday: "In the last couple of weeks under my tenure he has played far more games than he used to."