Manchester United have had some worrying precedents when it comes to transfer targets, and Erik ten Hag will want to avoid a repeat of some of the club’s most frustrating transfer windows
Manchester United’s relatively slow start to the summer transfer window may have some fans worried.
The Red Devils undoubtedly need reinforcements after slumping to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season. However, despite notable interest in the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Jurrien Timber, they have been made to wait as other Premier League big-hitters have got their business out of the way early.
There are some worrying precedents from years past, too, with previous sagas dragging on for weeks or more before United were left empty-handed. Here, Mirror Football looks at three of the biggest disappointments for the Old Trafford club since the turn of the century.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a manager very much used to getting his man, but things did not always go the way of the Scottish coach. Indeed, one of the most prominent examples of Fergie missing out on a target involved Brazilian star Ronaldinho.
Back in 2003, the former Gremio star had announced himself on the international stage with some big performances at the previous summer’s World Cup. However, at club level, he was still on the books of a Paris Saint-Germain side who were far less powerful than they are today.
United were on the verge of losing David Beckham to Real Madrid, and Ronaldinho was seen as a potential replacement. However, as Ferguson would later explain, things did not go to plan.
What was Man Utd’s biggest transfer misstep? Have your say in the comments section
“The attempt to buy Ronaldinho reflected the fact that United have always sported talismanic players,” the manager told GQ. “I was always hunting for that talent.
“My line of reasoning was: ‘We’re getting £ 25million for Beckham, and we’re getting Ronaldinho for £ 19m.’ “For God’s sake, wake up. It was a steal.”
There was a problem, though – Barcelona were also in the mix, and Sandro Rosell, who had previously attempted to bring Beckham to Camp Nou, was not going to be denied twice. Despite the Brazilian seemingly being out of Barca’s financial reach, they beat United to the punch with the help of international boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
“The biggest clubs in the world are always attractive to players,” Ronaldinho later admitted. “I spoke to a lot of people at that stage, my brother negotiated this. But when Sandro Rosell offered the chance of Barcelona…”
AFP / Getty Images)
Spain international defender Ramos turned down United not once but twice. However, while few will shed too many tears about missing out on him in 2021, the 2015 saga hurt a little more.
United were embarking on a second season under Louis van Gaal, with Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger among the high-profile arrivals. When the chance to add Ramos arrived, they felt as though there was room for one more, and for much of that summer it looked like United would succeed.
Reflecting on the saga later on, Ramos confirmed there was interest, and admitted he seriously considered moving. It was not just a ploy to secure a new deal at the Bernabeu, he insisted.
AFP via Getty Images)
“There was an offer from United,” the former Sevilla man told COPE the following year. “I considered changing for a while but Real Madrid was always my priority and there were no economic reasons.
Did I feel cheated [by Madrid]? No, but I did feel disappointed for a while. There were some troubles that came to an end. Flattery from big clubs is always good as this is because you are doing well, but the fans and my club want me. “
In those intervening five years, Ramos’ achievements will have stung United hard as they struggled to add trophies of their own. Champions League success in 2016, 2017 and 2018 removed any doubt anyone might have had about his ability to continue delivering at the top, while United themselves have not even come close to such an achievement in the same period.
David Moyes’ time in charge of Manchester United was far from a success, but he’ll wonder if things could have panned out differently with Thiago on board. Everything was in place for the deal to go through, but the failure was just one of many during the Scot’s short-lived tenure.
AFP / Getty Images)
Before handing over the reins to Moyes, Ferguson reportedly had a £ 17m move all but agreed for Spain international, who was just 22 years old at the time. Moyes opted against completing the deal, though, preferring to make his own mark in the new role and bring in a player he knew more about.
Cesc Fabregas was among the main midfield targets, while there was also the embarrassment of United’s Ander Herrera pursuit before that deal was eventually completed under Louis van Gaal. Ultimately, Moyes left it late and brought in Marouane Fellaini at the end of the window.
Thiago went to Bayern Munich instead, and won seven successive Bundesliga titles with the Bavarian club as well as the Champions League in 2020. Moyes, of course, did not even last last a full season at Old Trafford.
“There was never any firm proposal,” Thiago told The Mail in 2015. “David de Gea wanted me to join. He wrote a message on my match ball after we’d beaten Italy in the (Under-21 Euro) final. But I’d done the same with him. “