Sheffield United could have signed Real Madrid conqueror Emmanuel Dennis this summer for £13.3m.
Belgian publication Het Laatste Nieuws reports that the Blades made a £8.9m offer for the Club Brugge striker. Yet this fell just short of their valuation.
Monaco were also understood to be interested in Dennis, but in the end the 21-year-old remained in Belgium.
The Nigeria international made headlines across Europe this week after scoring twice at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League.
Dennis’ brace helped his side to a 2-2 draw at the home of the 13-time European champions. The forward went viral for his Cristiano Ronaldo-esque celebration at the corner flag after scoring the second.
Emmanuel Dennis part of a trend for Sheffield United
Dennis isn’t the first player based in the Belgian top tier that has been linked with a move to Bramall Lane. The same newspaper – HLN – previously reported of interest in Genk midfielder Sander Berge.
Apparently, while Berge was keen on a move to the Premier League, he has set his sights higher than a newly promoted club.
United did of course also actually sign someone from the division. Michael Verrips joined from KV Mechelen, although is yet to make his debut.
The free transfer of Verrips has caused some controversy. His former team have complained to FIFA about his move.
The goalkeeper decided his contract was void after Mechelen were eliminated from the Europa League following a match-fixing allegation.
The complaint is not about the Blades, but Verrips himself.
These links with Belgian football and South Yorkshire haven’t come from nowhere. United owner Prince Abdullah also part owns Beerschot from the country’s second division.
Meanwhile, Jan van Winckel is also on the board. The Telegraph described the Belgian as “director of football.”
Van Winckel’s actual role isn’t clear, but it is not too much of a stretch to suggest he has been involved in all three of the above deals.