Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho turned several heads during this past week when he was spotted in the stands for Austria’s pre-World Cup friendly with Russia. It was later revealed that the apparent target of the Portuguese’s interest was West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic, which surprised many, but with Maroaune Fellaini close to the exit door with his deal about to expire imminently, the Austrian’s profile certainly fit Mourinho’s requirements; strong, capable and a decent target man. Despite mixed success with this approach during his time at United, the former Chelsea boss continues to rely on this strategy, and with Fellaini on his way out, another tall replacement was required.
However, The Sun have added their own spin on the reason for Mourinho’s visit to Wednesday night’s game by suggesting that the manager was there to watch another player. CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin was the one attracting the United boss’ attention, says the report, with the 22-year old Russian forward having impressed him during their two Champions League group games this season. At a reported £15m, Golovin would be a relatively cheap option for a club of United’s means, and coming into the side as a relative unknown, there wouldn’t be much expectation on him to perform right away.
The report states that Golovin would enter the side as a replacement for Juan Mata, a player who’s United career is winding down after a disappointing second half of this last season. The Spaniard remains a firm favourite with the Old Trafford crowd, but he became increasingly marginalised over the last few months, and frequently found himself pushed out wide with Mourinho preferring a 4-3-3.
Still, given that Mata recently signed an extension on his current deal that will keep him at the club for another year, it would be wrong to start writing obituaries of his time at the club just yet.