Victor Lindelof wanted to link up with a Championship side before eventually playing his way towards Manchester United, claims former Benfica boss Rui Vitoria.
The Sweden international made a move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2017 when big money was invested in his potential, with the Red Devils confident that they were acquiring a useful option for the present and future.
The 25-year-old could, however, have found himself in England some time before global heavyweights came calling.
A Championship team expressed interest in him while he was finding his feet at Benfica, with Vitoria having to convince the commanding centre-half that he was better served staying put.
“Victor, one or two weeks from the close of the winter market, comes to my office and says to me and Rui Costa that he wanted to leave because he had an offer from a second-tier English league club and he wanted to go because he wanted to play more,” Vitoria told BTV.
“I told him ‘it's very close, your door is about to open, there is only one opportunity that may arise’.
“And he agreed to stay. Then there was an injury for Luisao, another for Lisandro and when he came in he was ready.
“Today he is in England and at one of the biggest clubs in the world because he knew how to wait for his opportunity.
“Our strategy was to have two, three experienced centre-halves and a younger one: we did it with Lindelof, then with Ruben Dias and we were also going to do it with Ferro.
“And they were players who, when they came in, were ready.”
Having gone on to establish himself at Benfica, Lindelof was taken to Manchester by Jose Mourinho and, across his three seasons with United, 104 appearances have been taken in.
He has not always been assured of a starting berth, but has struck up a promising partnership with Harry Maguire in 2019-20 and helped to plug some of the leaks which had become something of an issue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Lindelof is now waiting on the resumption of competitive football in England, with plans being pieced together to get Premier League action back on the agenda during the coronavirus pandemic.