I nearly joined Man Utd for next to nothing – Arsenal might now splash £60m on me

Wolves winger Pedro Neto could have been a Manchester United player had the club acted with more haste
-Credit: (Image: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Dallying Manchester United reportedly missed out on signing Arsenal target Pedro Neto for next to nothing.

The Gunners have been long-term admirers of the Wolverhampton Wanderers winger, and a £60million deal for the 24-year-old could finally be completed this summer. The Portugal star, whose style of play has been likened to that of Bukayo Saka, has been at Wolves since 2019.

He arrived from Braga, via a loan spell at Lazio, but well before then, United were believed to monitoring the exciting attacker closely. According to The Athletic, United identified Neto in early 2017 and even invited the then-teenager to their Carrington training base.

A second year scholar with Braga at the time, Neto took part in an academy game, impressing coaches and scouts. Braga would have only been due a nominal fee, but despite pleas from staff it took too long for a contract to be sanctioned.

Neto eventually signed a new deal with Braga before joining Lazio on a two-year contract with an option to buy. Instead, Neto joined Wolves in 2019 before making his senior international debut a year later.

United’s apparent hesitation to get a deal over the line is consistent with claims from frustrated former club scouts, who say they unearthed gems, only for the powers above not to act quickly enough. The Red Devils were also said to have identified current Bayern Munich and Germany star Jamal Musial and Moises Caicedo, now of Chelsea, early in their development.

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Lyndon Tomlinson, assistant head of academy recruitment between 2017 and 2021, detailed his frustrations to The Athletic. He said: “I think it’s just being decisive and getting things over the line, that was always the problem.

“In terms of the scouting, the structure and system we had - look at [Alejandro] Garnacho - was good. The reports were there, the process was there. We were just being let down at the end of it.

“That’s why I left, ultimately. I was getting frustrated that we were doing reports, I was travelling here, there and everywhere, [and] studying lots of video during Covid. We were making recommendations and then there was just nothing really happening.”