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Why Jose Mourinho told Man Utd hierarchy not to enter bidding war for Van Dijk in January 2018

Reports have claimed that Jose Mourinho advised Man Utd not to enter a bidding war for defender Virgil van Dijk in January 2018.

The Portuguese tactician left Old Trafford in December last year after an up and down spell in charge which included winning trophies but an alarming dip in his final few months in the job.

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One of the biggest weaknesses last season for United was their defence, as they conceded 54 goals in 38 Premier League games, giving them the worst defensive record of the top nine sides.

That undoubtedly contributed to them missing out on a top-four finish, and so it’s fair to say that defensive reinforcements were needed with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer getting the backing of the hierarchy with the signing of Harry Maguire this past summer.

However, according to The Independent, Mourinho told Man Utd chiefs in January 2018 not to enter a bidding war for Van Dijk, as it’s claimed that he felt as though he didn’t need another centre-half at that time with the likes of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all already vying for a starting place.

Van Dijk went on to join Liverpool in a £75m deal in that window, as noted by the Daily Mail, and has become a fundamental figure in their success and ongoing pursuit of major trophies, while Mourinho bemoaned the lack of a defensive signing last summer.

That report is part of a wider criticism of how Man Utd have operated on and off the pitch in recent times, and it’s fair to say if that is an accurate timeline of their decision making on their defence, then it will be one that they may rue.

Solskjer will hope that Maguire can establish himself as their long-term solution, but after a dip in results in recent weeks prior to the international break, the pressure will be on the United boss and his players to deliver otherwise they could be facing more tricky times ahead.

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