During the past summer window, Jose Mourinho was looking for a new goalscorer for his Europa League winning side to collaborate with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial but also, and more importantly, to replace injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic whose future at Manchester United was still uncertain.
At the top of his target list were two players from Serie A who had scored a combined 37 goals in Serie A and provided 19 assists during the 2016/17 season. The Portuguese did all he could in order to secure either or both of them but eventually failed and opted for Romelu Lukaku.
This weekend, those two players, Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Inter’s Ivan Perisic, face off at the San Siro Stadium in a historic clash between their two northern Italy sides.
Their upcoming match will be a good opportunity for Mourinho to see if his summer attempts to sign them were actually worth it or, instead, it was all much ado about nothing.
Who are they and how did they become so precious for their teams to refuse a job with the Premier League giants?
The first one is Andrea Belotti, Torino’s latest newbie who went from being an anonymous, €7.5m worth player to one of the most prolific youngsters of the league. His 26 Serie A goals consisted of quickness and outstanding ability to fool the best teams’ defences , earning him comparisons with Gabriel Batistuta, Gianluca Vialli and Christian Vieri.
The Rooster joined the Granata side last year from Palermo, and throughout the season managed to trick Juventus, Napoli, Milan, Roma and Inter and become Torino’s decisive goalscorer in many occasions.
He quickly passed from being worth less than €10m to seeing his value increased by almost ten times, as Mourinho was reportedly ready to offer Torino around €80m. President Urbano Cairo refused the bid, claiming that he was not for sale, not even for €100m.
As the new season began, Belotti still has to pay him off: his side have had a frustrating beginning of the year, with only four wins and three defeats, which have led them to ninth place in the league. The Rooster netted three times in eight games so he could be thirsty for more goals against second-placed Inter.
Meanwhile, thanks to his heroics at Inter, Croatian Ivan Perisic caught Mourinho’s attention during the summer.
With a past as a Bundesliga player, the 28-year-old landed at Inter in 2015, leaving the fans disappointed in the first season when he only scored seven goals in 34 games and often lost his temper when frustrated.
However, after his mediocre first year he worked hard to improve and earn his fans’ admiration. At the end of the 2016/17 season, he was every Fantasy League’s favourite after providing 11 goals and 11 assists in 36 matches.
His cooperation with Inter’s lead striker Mauro Icardi is something that they clearly have fun doing and has become so amusing and enjoyable to watch that last summer Mourinho wasn’t able to interfere.
His impulsive temper is both his fortune and his weakness. If he manages to control his anger, Torino’s defence will have a very hard time to stop him on Sunday morning.