Manchester United technical director Darren Fletcher reportedly advised Erik ten Hag to sign Wolves defender Nathan Collins last summer – only to be ignored by the Dutchman. The former Red Devils midfielder, who is now working upstairs at Old Trafford, knows the Irishman well from his time at Stoke City where the 22-year-old left a lasting impression on Fletcher.
Collins also caught the eye for Burnley last season despite their relegation from the top-flight before he eventually sealed a £20.5million switch to Wolves.
The Mail are now reporting that Fletcher wanted United to consider a move for the Republic of Ireland international as he felt there was a potential bargain to be had.
However, Ten Hag was seemingly not interested as he targeted a reunion with his former Ajax star Martinez, snapping up the Argentine in a £57m deal including add-ons.
United have been well aware of Collins’ quality for several years and their interest stems back to the summer of 2019 when Fletcher is said to have also put his name forward to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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At the time, Collins was said to be available for around £18m but again, the Red Devils decided to pursue other alternatives.
In the weeks that would follow, United would shell out £80m to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City – a world record fee for a defender.
At the time, Collins was quizzed on the reports linking him with United but he claimed he was willing to brush the speculation to one side despite his phone going mad.
“I think for some players, [transfer speculation] could [turn your head], but it didn’t really bother me,” said Collins in July 2019.
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“I woke up one morning and my brother ran into me, saying ‘quick, look at your phone’.
“There was all this stuff about Darren Fletcher. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it and it kept going and going. But it was only rumours and I knew I had to come back to Stoke.”
Collins has featured 24 times in the Premier League this season but has lost his place in their side under Julen Lopetegui.
The Spaniard has since switched to a back-three since replacing Bruno Lage in November and the Irishman has been the unfortunate casualty despite several spells in the side.
Meanwhile, United are reaping the rewards of their decision to sign Martinez, who has been exceptional in his debut Premier League season.
The World Cup winner has been sorely missed at the back for United since he underwent successful surgery on his broken metatarsal last month.
Martinez has formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Raphael Varane at the heart of Ten Hag’s backline.
Sadly, his season is now over following the injury which was sustained in the Europa League quarter-final draw with Sevilla prior to his side’s exit following their 3-0 defeat in the return fixture.
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