Stoke missed out on a £30million windfall when they ignored Victor Lindelof — and now the young Swede is set to become an identikit Jose Mourinho centre-half.
That’s the view of the man who tried to persuade the Potters to part with just £200,000 five years ago and take a punt on the then-teenage defender.
But the Staffordshire club allowed Lindelof to slip through their fingers. And now Craig Honeyman, the agent who attempted to push through the deal, says Mourinho’s £30m signing has everything necessary to be a major success at Manchester United .
He said: “Victor is such a well-rounded guy – I can’t see this move fazing him for one minute. But Stoke must be kicking themselves they let him slip through the net.
“We had been alerted to him because he’d made his debut in first-team football with Vasteras Sportklubb in Sweden when he was only 16.
“Stoke had agreed to take a look at Victor and another promising young player called Linus Sjoberg and we brought them over. They played him in a couple of matches at right-back. In fairness he was able to play there, at centre-half or as a holding midfielder.
“I saw one of the games and he did stand out. I’m not just saying that, even though I had an interest in him at the time.
“I pleaded with the club to allow Tony Pulis (their manager at the time) to have a look at him for just one day in training with the first-team before making a decision. They didn’t think that he was able to do that.
“And they would have been able to take him for 300,000 Euros – about £200,000 back then – as compensation.
“I don’t know how much the club has spent on defenders since. But they would have saved themselves a huge amount of money if they had spotted the potential.”
Honeyman, who runs HSH Sports, was an onlooker as a deal was struck by his Swedish partners for Lindelof to sign for Benfica. And his development in Portugal confirmed the agent’s predictions.
It is his belief too that Man United have signed a player who could be at the heart of their defence for years to come.
Honeyman added: “Victor has no airs or graces. He’s intelligent and otherwise just a normal grounded guy. But he’s a Mourinho type of player – 100 per cent.
“It’s ironic that he is reportedly interested in [his former Chelsea midfielder] Nemanja Matic because that’s who Victor reminds me of physically. He is a big, athletic, solid defensive player.
“Mourinho likes his players to be powerful. Victor still has some development in him. And with Eric Bailly, he could form the backbone of that Manchester United team for a good few years.
“He can also smash in a free-kick from 30 yards. But that’s not what they have signed him for. He’s in the team to stop others playing. And, looking at some of the prices being thrown about, it’s not a bad bit of business for Mourinho.”