Manchester United have pulled out of a move for Marko Arnautovic, The Athletic understand.
Bologna rejected a €8m (£6.8m, $8.1m) offer for the forward at the weekend and an improved offer was expected. But United have now decided against continuing the pursuit.
United are understood to have received a number of complaints from fans over the idea of the club signing the 33-year-old.
There have been allegations that 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 imposed a one-match suspension as punishment and United supporters emailed the club to ask for consideration in the matter.
Michael Damevski, who is of North Macedonian descent, wrote to United to ask how Arnautovic’s signing would fit with the club’s zero-tolerance approach to racism. A club official replied that 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 Euro game. He also denied allegations in 2009 that he racially insulted an opponent while playing for FC Twente.
What is Marko Arnautovic’s problem?
Erik ten Hag wanted Arnautovic as a budget option to bolster his attacking options before the summer transfer window closes on September 1.
Arnautovic previously worked under both Ten Hag and United assistant manager Steve McClaren during his time at Twente.
He scored 43 goals and collected 33 assists in 184 Premier League games at West Ham and Stoke before joining Shanghai SIPG.
The forward returned to Europe last season by joining Italian club Bologna on a two-year spell, scoring 14 goals in 33 league games.
But Bologna insisted Arnautovic was not up for sale during negotiations and the likely cost of the deal was increasing, reducing his appeal.
It has also been confirmed that Red Bull Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko, a player United have been in talks about, will join RB Leipzig next summer.
United will now turn their attention 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 and expect a full agreement can be reached at a price of €20m (£16.8m, $20.4m).
Rabiot has been on United’s list all summer and received Ten Hag’s full support after being proposed by United’s recruitment team. The France international is seen as a player who should improve the quality of United’s midfield and talks are said to be held with his mother Veronique, his agent.
Rabiot’s arrival would not mean the end of United’s offer for Frenkie de Jong but with the Barcelona situation affecting Ten Hag, Ten Hag have approved the signing of an alternative midfielder.
The Rabiot Paradox: What Exactly Would Manchester United Get?
(Photo: Getty Images)