Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was desperate in bringing Breel Embolo to Old Trafford, Schalke sporting Christian Heidel has revealed.
The 19-year-old came up through the ranks of Swiss club FC Basel and after impressing in the youth teams, he was promoted it to the first team in 2014. He spent two seasons with them and his impressive form saw him make debut for his national side last March.
Embolo was also a part of Switzerland side that lost to Poland in the Round of 16 of the recently concluded European championship. After his national side were knocked out of the Euro 2016, he signed a five-year deal with Schalke for a reported fee of £20 million.
The Switzerland international had attracted interest from United, while Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were also in the race for his signature. However, the forward rejected a chance to move to England in order to join the Bundesliga club. Heidel admitted that Schalke were forced to make a quick approach in order to beat competitions from other top clubs from Europe.
“There are a number of reasons why we signed Embolo,” Sky Sports quoted Heidel as saying.
“First and foremost, there are sporting reasons. It’s nothing new that he is a great player. There is a reason why Mourinho desperately wanted to sign him for Manchester United.
“But we also see him as a player the Schalke fans can identify with, a bit like Benedikt Howedes, Leroy Sane and someone like Ralf Fahrmann.
“Embolo had a similar role at Basel, where 80 per cent of the shirts they sold had his name on it. He is very open, is always smiling and makes it easy for people to like him.”
“When we realised there was a possibility that we could miss out on signing him due to other clubs’ interest, we had to move fast..
“President Clemens Tonnies happily made his plane available. We flew out to Montpellier at 1300 CET and returned five hours later. We had wrapped up the deal in that short period,” he added.