Manchester United have had some of the biggest and best players to ever grace the game don their kit.
And at the helm was Sir Alex Ferguson – who sat in the dugout for 27 years and oversaw the most successful period for any English club in history.
Fergie’s prowess in the transfer market is well-documented but even the great Scotsman made mistakes.
Here are the 10 that got away.
1. Sergio Aguero
The Argentine was making a name for himself as a teenager at Atletico Madrid as clubs registered an interest.
Ultimately, Ferguson decided £35m was too much to spend on a youngster unproven in the Premier League.
Just the 257 goals for City…
2. Eden Hazard
While at Lille, Hazard was one of the most sought-after players in the world but only the two Manchester clubs were in the running.
The Scotsman blamed agent fees – which he insisted rose to £6m – a price he was not willing to pay, and Wilfried Zaha signed instead.
3. Raphael Varane
When the Frenchman was at Lens, he was the talk of the town with United and Real Madrid keen – who Zinedine Zidane was a director for at the time.
“I hurtled down on the train from Euston to Lille to sign the young French defender Raphael Varane,” Ferguson wrote in his book Leading.
“David Gill was getting into the finer points of the contract with Lens when Zinedine Zidane got wind of this and somehow scooped him up for Real Madrid from under our noses.”
4. Gareth Bale
The Red Devils did not stump up the funds, however, and were concerned with his defensive prowess.
5. Samir Nasri
Fergie met Nasri in a secret location in Paris while he was with the Gunners and the winger told BeIn Sports in 2015: “We met with Sir Alex in Paris, in a hidden place, out of sight, so as not to fuel the rumours.
“But there was one thing that was a problem; I was asked to go to war with Arsenal to be able to join. I could not see myself doing it, especially with Arsene Wenger.”
6. Aaron Ramsey
Sir Alex admitted Ramsey was “the one that got away” in a debrief with some of the best coaches in the world in 2014.
The midfielder signed for the Gunners back in 2008 over United.
7. Arjen Robben
Chelsea fans remember Robben fondly for his short but sweet spell under Jose Mourinho before joining Real Madrid in 2007.
But the Dutchman has admitted he would have signed for United – had they offered him a contract.
“I had a very good conversation with him [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life,” Robben told FourFourTwo magazine.
“I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good, but after I went back to PSV nothing happened.
In an alternative reality, Ronaldinho would have donned the iconic No. 7 shirt instead of Ronaldo at United.
He said: “We were all excited – Ronaldinho, what a player! I think he was coming from PSG at the time and we were all going to get to play with him and he’s going to bring something special.”
9. Alan Shearer
It is one of the biggest ‘what ifs?’ in English football – what if Shearer joined United? – and the answer would have been likely terrifying for everyone else.
10. Paul Gascoigne
When it comes to unbridled genius on the pitch, there are not many than Gazza – and Ferguson was desperate to sign the maverick in 1988.
“Can I go on holiday, knowing that I’ve signed you?” he asked him, and was given assurances that a deal was done.
But while enjoying some sunshine, Fergie would read that Gascoigne had gone back on their verbal agreement and signed for Tottenham instead for £2.2m – a record at the time.
The United boss was so aggrieved he sent the midfielder a letter him a “silly boy” while also lamenting him for “turning down the biggest club in the world.”
- ^ Cristiano Ronaldo (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Premier League (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Manchester City (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Twitter (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Chelsea (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Real Madrid (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Southampton (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Tottenham (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Arsenal (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ West Ham (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Juventus (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Barcelona (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Newcastle (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Manchester United (www.mirror.co.uk)
[email protected] (Callum Vurley)