Manchester United looked close to winning the race for Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo as the January transfer window approached. But complicated negotiations are thought to have prompted the club to pull out, leaving Brighton now likely to sign the teenager instead.
Caicedo emerged from the youth ranks at Ecuadorian club Independiente del Valle and has already become a key member for the Ecuador national team since making his senior debut in October.
United weren’t the only Premier League club linked with the talented youngster, but in December it was they who looked closest to completing a deal in the region of £4m or £5m.
It is understood that United were actively working on a deal to sign Caicedo, but the Manchester Evening News writes Old Trafford officials were eventually put off by the involvement of ‘various intermediaries’ that made the negotiations ‘too messy’ to take things any further.
The local newspaper even quotes a source saying the complex talks became a ‘clusterf***’.
Independiente del Valle general manager Santiago Morales has confirmed the club has reached an agreement with a Premier League side, although he did not disclose who.
A report from talkSPORT notes that Brighton are confident they will land Caicedo instead, seeing off late competition from Newcastle, and journalist Duncan Castles claims the Seagulls will pay €5.5m (£4.9m). He is then likely to be immediately loaned to second tier Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise.
Chelsea, Everton and West Ham have all been linked or credited with interest in the 19-year-old in recent weeks as well, but he appears to be eventually bound for the south coast.
English clubs will often station overseas players on loan at clubs in continental Europe while they work through a UK work permit application.
Because Caicedo has only relatively recently started playing international football and isn’t coming from an internationally noted league, or for a vast transfer fee, he may struggle to initially meet the criteria for a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) necessary to be granted a work permit.