Manchester United were involved in a frantic last-ditch scramble to sign former Watford striker Odion Ighalo on loan last night after balking at Bournemouth's £35 million (€41.7m) valuation of Josh King.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had turned his sights to King in his desperate search for attacking reinforcements following the loss of top scorer Marcus Rashford to a back injury.
But despite Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager, making no attempt to conceal the Norway striker's desire to return to Old Trafford, where he spent five years as a youngster until 2013, United's bid fell well short of the south coast club's price tag on the 28-year-old.
United - who initially favoured a loan deal - are thought to have made an offer of around £20m (€23.8m) for King, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury until after this month's winter break. But Bournemouth were demanding considerably more and talks broke down, prompting United to turn instead to Ighalo, who plays for Shanghai Shenhua in China.
Postponed As the clock ticked down towards last night's 11pm deadline, United were in talks about a short-term loan until the end of the season. With the Chinese Super League season postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, Ighalo was eager to return to Europe. Tottenham had also expressed an interest.
The Nigeria striker, 30, left Watford in 2017 to move to China, initially for Changchun Yatai and then Shenhua. He is one of a host of players United have been offered since Rashford was struck down by a double stress fracture in his back in mid-January.
Solskjaer had hoped to sign Erling Haaland earlier in the window, but the Norway striker opted to join Borussia Dortmund. United made an inquiry about Southampton's Danny Ings and were also offered Leicester flop Islam Slimani and veteran Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani.
Solskjaer made clear that United need more goals in the team in the wake of the 1-0 Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg win over Manchester City and he even hinted that he may be forced to rethink his system. He felt Anthony Martial and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood - his only available recognised strikers - struggled as a pairing.
Bruno Fernandes is in line to make his debut against Wolves tonight following his initial £46.6 million (€55m) move from Sporting Lisbon and Solskjaer has likened the Portugal midfielder to Paul Scholes, whose No 18 shirt he has inherited.
Meanwhile, Solskjaer has not closed the door on Marcos Rojo playing for United again, despite the defender's loan move to Estudiantes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
It feels like we have been denied the greatest heavyweight contest of the Premier League era. Pep Guardiola versus Jose Mourinho was supposed to be English football's fight of the century - the manager of the 2000s against the coach of the past 10 years.