Manchester United pull out of Marko Arnautovic move

Manchester United have pulled out of a move for Marko Arnautovic, The Athletic understands.

Bologna rejected a bid of €8million (£6.8m, $8.1m) for the forward at the weekend and an improved offer was expected. But United have now decided against continuing the pursuit.

It is understood United received a number of complaints from fans about the idea of the club signing the 33-year-old.

There were accusations the former West Ham United and Stoke City player used an anti-Albanian slur during Austria’s game against North Macedonia at Euro 2020. UEFA issued a one-match ban as punishment and United supporters emailed the club to ask for consideration on the matter.

Michael Damevski, who is of North Macedonian descent, wrote to United to question how signing Arnautovic would correspond to the club’s zero tolerance approach to racism. A club staff member replied to say Damevski’s concerns had been noted.

Several fans also emailed chief executive Richard Arnold directly.

Arnautovic insisted he was not a racist in a social media post after that game at the Euros. He also denied allegations in 2009 he had racially abused a opponent while playing for FC Twente.

Erik ten Hag wanted Arnautovic as a cut-price option to bolster his attacking options before the summer transfer window shuts on September 1.

Arnautovic previously worked under both Ten Hag and United’s assistant manager, Steve McClaren, during his time at Twente.

He scored 43 goals and claimed 33 assists in 184 Premier League appearances at West Ham and Stoke before joining Shanghai SIPG.

The forward returned to Europe last season by joining Italian side Bologna on a two-year deal, scoring 14 goals in 33 league appearances.

But Bologna insisted Arnautovic was not for sale during negotiations and the prospective cost of the deal rose, thus reducing its appeal.

It has also been confirmed that Red Bull Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko, a player United held talks over, will join RB Leipzig next summer.

United will now turn attentions to other attacking targets.

The club are getting closer to a deal for midfielder Adrien Rabiot. United are in talks with Juventus over the 27-year-old with an expectation a full agreement can be reached at a €20m (£16.8m, $20.4m) price.

Rabiot has been on United’s list all summer and gained Ten Hag’s full support after being proposed by United’s recruitment team. The French international is seen as a player to raise the quality in United’s midfield and talks with his mother Veronique, who is his agent, are due to take place.

Rabiot’s arrival would not signal the end of United’s bid for Frenkie de Jong, but as the situation with Barcelona drags on Ten Hag has sanctioned the signing of an alternative midfielder.