Jose Mourinho told Manchester United NOT to pay more than £50million for Harry Maguire – and ended up costing the Reds a cool £20million.
Maguire, 26, became the world’s most expensive defender last summer when he moved to Old Trafford from Leicester in a deal worth £80million.
But United had first registered their interest in the centre-back 12 months earlier when Mourinho had put him on his wish-list – and was lined up to make the switch for £60million.
United, however, backed out of talks with the Foxes when Mourinho told club bosses that paying a penny more than £50million would “embarrass him.”
A club insider said: “A move was made for Maguire in the summer of 2018 – with Jose Mourinho’s blessing.
“But Jose’s interest in signing the player came with a proviso. He said that while Maguire was an excellent player, he wasn’t worth more than £50million.
“In fact, he said paying more than £50million would embarrass him.
“The club was armed with that valuation when they spoke to Leicester – who immediately made it clear they would not sell Maguire for less than £60million.
“The deal was dead before United had even made a formal bid – and when it was decided to move for Maguire again a year later, his price had gone up to £80million.”
Mourinho was sacked four months into the season – still complaining that Unite had failed to land his top transfer targets.
It was Leicester’s refusal to budge on the price that prompted Manchester City to drop their interest in Sheffield-born Maguire.
His form since arriving at United has mirrored that of the team, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men struggling for consistency.
But Solskjaer has still seen enough of his record recruit to make him captain in the absence of club skipper Ashley Young.