Borussia Dortmund went to extreme lengths to ensure they landed Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham ahead of their European rivals this summer.
Bellingham turned 17 earlier this month, meaning he is now eligible to sign a professional contract.
He is expected to put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Dortmund, and is said to have been convinced by the project at the club, as well as the chance of regular first-team opportunities.
Bellingham is enthused by the career trajectories of the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland since joining BVB, and is now hopeful of making similar progress himself.
United had gone to great lengths to tempt the midfielder, even showing him round their Carrington training HQ with the help of Sir Alex Ferguson.
But it is indeed Dortmund who have seemingly won the race and The Athletic have revealed the lengths the German side went to in their pursuit of the talented midfielder.
The youngster was reportedly sent shirts and invited on a tour of the club’s Signal Iduna Park and the training ground before the winter break.
Dortmund also created a a video for Bellingham which depicted the sensation of playing in front of the Yellow Wall, Europe’s biggest standing terrace; and also detailed the successful transition of Sancho.
It is claimed that by February, the Germans were confident that they had indeed won the race.
That belief was strengthened in May when, as claimed by The Athletic, Bellingham watched Dortmund’s 4-0 win over the Schalke which was the first game of the Bundesliga’s restart.
The youngster donned a Dortmund shirt for the encounter, which he watched on TV at home in the Midlands, and sent the club proof following the game.
Dortmund are understood to have agreed wages of around £2.7 million, more than United were prepared to pay initially.
Indeed, it is a bitter blow to United who were also confident they could persuade the Birmingham prodigy to ply his trade at Old Trafford.