Manchester United, a juggernaut of a football team both on the pitch and of it. Even though they have broken transfer records on multiple occasions it doesn’t always mean they get their man.
When noting down a list of Manchester United’s nearly men it makes you wonder what could’ve been. The number of players and the quality of them is staggering and in some cases you can’t help but think why didn’t we get them over the line.
We are going to have a look at just 5 of quite a long list of players United have missed out on in the past. In no particular order, and in the famous words of Di Marzio, here we go!
Shearer is one of the biggest ‘what could’ve been’ signings for United. After winning the Premier League with Blackburn he had the choice of going to the biggest club in the country or his hometown club. Not always an easy decision for footballers I am sure but nonetheless Shearer went on to become the all time Premier Record Goalscorer without winning another trophy. In the meantime United were winning every major honour. Shearer himself recently admitted on Match of the Day that he was very close to signing for The Red Devils, and maybe it might be a decision he regrets when he didn’t win any more major trophies in his career. However, imagine if the deal did happen with the success United were having in the mid to late ‘90s and then into the ‘00s then add into the mix the most clinical striker then Premier League has ever seen. A force to be reckoned with and the only outcome would’ve been even more trophies for Manchester United. On top of that with a midfield of Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Keane it would only calculate to even more goals for the record holder. On the positive side we would’ve never got to see the link up between Yorke and Cole if this did happen.
Arguably the most famous transfer never to happen was Ronaldinho’s nearly transfer to United from PSG in 2003. On the back of Beckham’s move to Real Madrid Ronaldinho was Sir Alex’s first choice but a complication with the player’s representative and Peter Kenyon meant a formal arrangement was never finalised. Ronaldinho then went on to Barcelona to become the best player on the planet and what an impact he could’ve made at Old Trafford. It does beg the question how he would’ve fitted into Ferguson’s systems when the Brazilian likes a free role and not known for his defending attributes. Ronaldinho is one of the best flair players to ever grace the game so I’m sure there is no doubt it would’ve worked out but equally missing out on him allowed us to go for a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Some players and teams are a match made in heaven and Gazza and Man United would’ve been just that. There was no doubting the unbelievable ability, but maybe his mindset and professionalism. Gazza was crying out for a manager like Sir Alex. He needed someone to allow him to express himself on the pitch but someone to guide him in the right direction off it. We missed out on the England star because Tottenham bought his mum and dad a house and his sister a sun bed. But a player of that calibre with his creativity he would’ve for sure become an Old Trafford hero. Ferguson knew of his abilities and was a huge admirer of Gascoigne saying he was the “best player of his era”. It was back in ‘87 when he was going to sign for United and just 5 years later Eric Cantona donned then red shirt. Now that combination is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.
Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero is an Italian legend and World Cup winner. Manchester saw an opportunity to sign Del Piero when Juventus were forced to play their football in the second tier of Italian football due to a match fixing conviction. Although it may not have not been on the cards from the player’s perspective United were in need of a striker in 2007 and to fill that void they ended up loan Swedish superstar Henrik Larsson. Del Piero’s stats are impressive enough, with 208 goals in 513 appearances, before you start diverging to into his trophy cabinet. These goals all come from more of a supportive forward rather than an out and out number 9 like Alan Shearer which makes the goal to game ratio even more impressive. Would it have worked with him in the 2007 squad? The main attacking threat was Saha, Solskjaer and Rooney. I would suggest he is too similar than these players but with the athleticism of the three already at United Del Piero, with his immense quality, would fit around them and undoubtably score goals.
Batigol is personally my favourite striker not to play for Manchester United. He had it all and it gets forgotten how good he actually was. There was no better goal that captivated all of his qualities than the one against us at Old Trafford for Fiorentina. He took the ball with his back to goal 35 yards out, turned then side stepped Jaap Stam and hit an absolute thunderbolt from 30+ yards. He was known most for these types of goals and he did it 167 times in 269 appearances for Fiorentina. That’s a goal in every 1.6 games. Why didn’t this transfer happen? There was a host of top drawer clubs after him United, Madrid and AC Milan to name just a few but he he was quoted to say he “preferred the tranquillity of playing for Fiorentina”. There would’ve been no issue fitting him into any United team. Being the goal machine that he is and with the abundance of different qualities he had to be able to score a goal or at least give himself a chance to, you’d fit him in at whatever cost.
I can’t do this article without a couple of honourable mentions. That is to both Nicolas Gaitan and Wesley Sneijder. It feels there hasn’t been a transfer window that we haven’t been linked with these two, even after Sneijder’s retirement. Sneijder was apparently a top target for a number of summer transfer windows and as for Gaitan he must have had 500 medicals if you listened to the media.
We will (eventually) have another transfer window. We will continuously be linked with dozens of different players of which we all will either get all hyped up about or just simply shrug off. But when the dust has settled and the window slams shut, if we don’t sign the players you want there is always someone else out there ready to make an impact at Old Trafford.