Salomon Rondon says he was ‘really close’ to joining Manchester United in January but understands the club’s decision to sign Odion Ighalo instead of him.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it clear he wanted to bolster his thin attacking options this winter and an agreement was reached with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for Ighalo, 30, in the final hours of the transfer window.
Ighalo put pen to paper on a six-month loan deal with the Red Devils and the Nigeria international is in line to make his first start away to Club Brugge in the Europa League tonight.
Rondon – who, like Ighalo, has been plying his trade in the Chinese Super League – was another player firmly on United’s radar before last month’s transfer deadline.
United were confident Rondon could still do a job in the Premier League after recent spells with West Brom and Newcastle, but a firm offer was never submitted for the 30-year-old Venezuelan.
However, the Dalian Yifang star insists he was on the verge of a move to Old Trafford after discussions between the club and his agent.
‘It was all out of my hands,’ the former West Brom and Newcastle forward told The Athletic.
‘It means a lot to be linked with Manchester United because they have a great history and it must mean they think I did well in the Premier League.
‘They started to talk to my agent and I was just waiting by my phone for a decision, maybe for the lawyers, but then I saw Ighalo had signed.
‘It didn’t get to the stage where an offer was made or anything like that, but I think it was really close.’
Rondon claims he’s now fully focused on Dalian again after missing out on joining United, adding that he’s ‘pleased’ for Ighalo on sealing his dream move.
Asked whether he’s ‘distraught’ or ‘angry’, Rondon replied: ‘No, no — it’s just football.
‘It’s decisions again and they obviously decided Ighalo was the best decision for them. I’ve played against him and I’m pleased for him.
‘All I can do is keep working. I’m concentrating on Dalian, on working and learning and listening to the manager.
‘After that, we will have to wait and see. You just never know in this game.’