Jose Mourinho says Manchester United would have fought hard to sign Renato Sanches instead of allowing the Portugal international to join Bayern Munich, had he been appointed to replace Louis van Gaal earlier. Sanches moved to the Bavarian giants from Benfica three weeks before Mourinho was confirmed as the successor to Van Gaal.
The 18-year-old went on to become one of stars of the European Championships for the eventual winners Portugal, and is expected to be a central figure for Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern this season after his £27.5m ($35.94m, €32.42m) move, according to Sky Sports. He caught the eye of Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone during last term's Champions League before moving to the Bundesliga.
United were heavily linked with a move for Sanches, with the Manchester Evening News (MEN) reporting that the club turned down the chance to sign the player just a week before he completed his move to Bayern. The club were understood to be conscious of not signing Sanches while Van Gaal was still in charge but Mourinho says he would have battled to sign the Euro 2016 star.
"I arrived [at Manchester United] late," he told Sport TV, according to MEN. "I signed in May, we started talking a week before, but completely out of the process. If I had arrived earlier, I'd fight for him.
"Manchester United watched Renato many times and maybe I did it even more. In so much time at home, I watched many Benfica and Portuguese league games, I got to know the boy better with time. He's in a big club, in a league where he'll certainly be the champion. The club have players of very high level which belong to the structure, a little like Benfica."
Mourinho has signed three players already this summer and is hopeful of making Paul Pogba the fourth addition since arriving at Old Trafford. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss expects the club to complete a deal for a "very good midfielder" which could come before the Premier League opener against AFC Bournemouth.