Russian international Andrey Lunev was a target for Championship outfit Middlesbrough before moving to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, agent Alexander Manyakov told Sport24.
Unfortunately, it seems the money on offer at Leverkusen – one-time Champions League finalists and regulars in European competition – was far greater than at a club currently flanked by Luton Town and Barnsley in England’s second tier.
Then again, that is no surprise really.
No one could question Middlesbrough’s ambition this summer – they invested £6 million in Argentina youth star Martin Payero and also attempted to sign Brazilian striker Rodrigo Muniz and Eredivisie speed-machine Mitchell van Bergen – but convincing Lunev to swap the Russian champions for the Championship proved beyond them.
Did Andrey Lunev make the right call?
“Andrey wanted to go to Europe,” said Alexander Manyakov.
“I had an offer from Middlesbrough for Andrey. But there was an offer from Bayer, and he accepted it. This was the desire of the player.
“Middlesbrough had fairly average money, even by Russian standards.”
The 29-year-old would eventually put pen to paper on a two-season deal with Bayer Leverkusen, insisting that he cannot wait to make a name for himself in the Bundesliga.
Don’t expect to see Lunev all that often though; in the flying Finn Lukas Hradecky, Leverkusen already have one of the most reliable shot-stoppers in the league standing strong between the sticks.
You’d imagine that first-team football would have been easier to come by on the Riverside, particularly given that Joe Lumley, Neil Warnock’s current number one, is hardly the most convincing glovesman in England’s second tier.
Middlesbrough did manage to complete the eye-catching signings of Sporting Lisbon striker Andraz Sporar and former Ligue 1 playmaker James Lea Siliki.
Uche Ikpeazu and Matt Crooks, meanwhile, have already impressed in a new-look strike partnership, even if Middlesbrough have hardly performed like promotion contenders in the early weeks of the season.