Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed an unnamed Spanish club tried to sign Guillermo Varela during the January transfer window.
Injuries to Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia have seen Varela emerge as a key member of United's defence over the past month, starting in the club's last four games – all of which have been won.
The full-back, whose impressive form has earned him a call up to the senior Uruguay squad, joined the club in 2013 but had to wait until last December last year to make his first-team debut. He recently admitted that wait forced him to consider leaving the club, but van Gaal opted to place his faith in the young defender and others like him, rather than signing new players during the January transfer window.
"[The young players] want to prove and they want to show to the world, to the manager, to everybody, that they are the best, so they always give spirit to a team," Van Gaa told a press conference, Sky Sports report.
"That is why we have decided not to invest in January and I have said that already two months ago, but you don't want to believe it. In January we took the risk for the left-back position and we didn't buy. We needed a left-back and we inquired about a lot of players. Some have said it now.
"It is always the agent that is doing that because it is interesting Man United is inquiring, but we said, 'Okay, maybe Borthwick-Jackson and Varela can do the job'. There was Spanish interest in Varela and we said no because of that."
While Varela's recent run in the team has coincided with United's winning streak, he insists he still cannot consider himself a first-team regular.
"I don't really," he told the United official website. "I think my main task is to keep working on a day-by-day basis to show the coach that I am a candidate for a regular first-team spot. I wouldn't say I'm an automatic pick now, that would be a bit premature."
"Of course, I'm very happy with a run of four matches in the side and four victories as well. I feel enormous pride in being able to play for a club like Manchester United. I think the important thing is that we keep working, and I want to keep working to keep a regular place in the team so that, in time, I can reach 50, 100 or 200 games in the shirt."