Manchester United had failed with a €30 (£23m, $34m) bid for Nicolas Gaitan last summer according to Al Ahli manager, Cosmin Olaroiu. The Red Devils have been long-term admirers of the Portuguese international but this is the first time that an official bid has been confirmed.
The Red Devils have always been heavily linked with a move for the player and Olaroiu suggests that there was substance to rumours that United had made a substantial bid to bring the player to Old Trafford. The manager confirmed that they had outbid United in the chase for Gaitan but the player was unwilling to move to the Middle East and had turned the move down.
"We tabled €35m for Gaitan, which was above the €30m offered by Manchester United," Olaroiu told Romanian outlet GSP. "We agreed the deal with Benfica, but the player turned the deal down."
Gaitan has since signed a new contract with Benfica suggesting that he is unlikely to move out of Lisbon in the near future, with United keeping away from pursuing the player in January. Louis van Gaal has been looking to add some pace and creativity to his final third and poaching Gaitan would have made perfect sense to address the need of the hour.
The 27-year-old has already scored three and assisted one in the group stages of the Champions League this season and would have been a brilliant addition to the squad that has been struggling to score goals of late. His ability to play behind the striker or on the wings would have been an asset for Van Gaal, who is looking for alternatives to Memphis Depay, who has flattered to deceive this season.
Meanwhile, the Red Devils are a player down with Adnan Januzaj limping out of their game against the Norwich U-21s, adding one more name to a growing injury list at Old Trafford. The Red Devils played well against Chelsea and deserved to win the game but were scuppered by an injury-time goal by Diego Costa, to have to settle with a share of the spoils at Stamford Bridge.