Manchester United, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, have signed some great players including Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo.
They have also missed out on some great players too.
They recently missed out on signing Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho after failing to meet the financial demands of the German club before the deadline date of August 10, 2020.
United, however, have missed out on some even greater footballers like Ronaldo (the phenomenon), Zinedine Zidane and even Ghana’s Michael Essien.
Here are 10 great players that Manchester United failed to sign:
The phenomenon. The original.
Ronaldo had it all – pace, power, skill and devastating finishing. United were interested and they were offered the chance to buy him in 1996. The only catch was PSV Eindhoven wanted £20m.
That was crazy money at the time, though not crazy enough for Barcelona. They paid up, Ronaldo scored 47 goals in his first season at the Nou Camp and he went on to become one of the greatest players of all time.
2003 was a strange transfer summer for Manchester United. David Beckham had been sold to Real Madrid and United were apparently close to signing Brazilian sensation Ronaldinho.
The only problem was that Barcelona were desperate to sign him as well after missing out on Beckham, and it was no surprise when he was seen juggling the ball at the Nou Camp after a €30m deal had been agreed with Paris Saint-Germain.
3. Zinedine Zidane
It was obvious that Zinedine Zidane would be leaving Bordeaux in the summer of 1996. He had just become Player of the Year in France and he was being watched by scouts from all the biggest clubs in Europe.
United had him on their list of targets and Eric Cantona told Ferguson that he should sign him.
According to former United chairman Martin Edwards, United didn’t make a move for Zidane because Ferguson thought he was not what they needed at the time.
Zidane left Bordeaux that summer and went on to win some of the game’s biggest trophies with Juventus, Real Madrid and France.
4. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski guarantees goals and if things had turned out differently he would have spent his weekends celebrating at Old Trafford instead of the Allianz Arena.
According to Lewandowski, he spoke to United in 2012 and was impressed by what he heard, but Borussia Dortmund refused to let him go. And who can blame them, the Poland international had just scored 30 times to help them win their second consecutive title under Jurgen Klopp.
Lewandowski eventually joined Bayern Munich two years later.
5. Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard should have become a United player in 2012. It was nailed on, right until he signed for Chelsea for £32m.
Manchester City and Tottenham wanted to sign him from Lille as well, but Hazard says he chose Chelsea after speaking to Didier Drogba and Joe Cole.
Others are not so sure. Ferguson said the asking price had been too high and United had refused to pay Hazard’s agent £6m to get the deal done.
Hazard went on to become one of the best foreign players in English football and he stayed at Stamford Bridge for seven seasons before moving to Real Madrid in a £130m deal last summer.
As for United, after missing out on Hazard they signed Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.
6. Virgil van Dijk
Jose Mourinho wanted to sign a centre-back in the summer of 2017. He had Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Daley Blind but he was not entirely convinced by any of them.
He drew up a shortlist of three targets and he told the club to sign one of them. The three names on the list in alphabetical order were Michael Keane, Victor Lindelof and Virgil van Dijk.
On June 15, United agreed a deal with Benfica to sign Lindelof for £31m and six months later Liverpool paid Southampton £75m for Van Dijk
Van Dijk went on to win the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool.
7. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies is only 19 but he looked like the best left-back in the world in Bayern Munich’s thrashing of Chelsea in the Champions League in February.
Davies had been watched closely by United and they even invited him to their training ground for a three-week trial back in January 2018.
But having just returned from a training camp with the Canadian Olympic team, his club at the time, Vancouver Whitecaps, refused to release him again.
Six months later they sold him to Bayern Munich for £14m, a deal that already looks to be worth every penny.
8. Erling Braut Haaland
There’s no doubt Erling Haaland would have been a great signing for United, but it didn’t happen.
The 19-year-old traded Red Bull Salzburg for Borussia Dortmund in January and United’s inability to get the deal over the line will come as no surprise when you consider that Haaland’s agent is a certain Mino Raiola.
9. Michael Essien
You can’t really blame United for failing to sign Michael Essien. They invited him to Carrington for a trial when he was just 17 but they couldn’t sign him because of work permit problems.
Essien had been so overawed by the experience he was too scared to speak to any United players during his seven days in Manchester. He may have been shy, but he was still determined to make it to the top.
He took a roundabout route back to the Premier League via Bastia and Lyon before signing for Chelsea for £24m in 2005. At Stamford Bridge he established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world and won seven major trophies in eight seasons.
10. John Obi Mikel
Manchester United actually signed John Obi Mikel from Lyn Oslo in 2005. The Nigerian midfielder appeared at a press conference to announce the move and was even seen wearing a Manchester United shirt.
But there was just one problem – Chelsea believed they had an exclusive agreement to sign him and they weren’t prepared to let him go to Old Trafford.
After almost a year of legal wrangles, Mikel signed for Chelsea, but only after they had paid United £12m compensation.
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