Manchester United missed out on the chance to sign Matthijs De Ligt – because they were told he would become too fat.
Ajax skipper De Ligt has emerged as one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe, with the centre-back set to spark a £75million scramble for his signature this summer.
United, who are desperate to sign a central defender this summer, could have signed De Ligt for less than that figure last season – but decided against it because of concerns over his weight.
Dutch scout Marcel Bout, who was brought in by Louis van Gaal and remained in his role despite the former United manager’s sacking, scouted De Ligt extensively and recommended him to the club.
But Bout told United that De Ligt’s father Frank was significantly overweight and predicted the 19-year-old Holland international would go the same way as he got older and lose his pace and power.
Former United boss Jose Mourinho, sacked in December, wanted a centre-back last summer and identified De Ligt as his first-choice target, with Leicester ’s Harry Maguire a fall-back option.
But United vetoed the move for De Ligt on the basis of Bout’s belief the defender – now recognised as the best in Europe - would pile on the pounds in the coming years and lose his pace and power.
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