Yesterday, Antoine Griezmann did us all a favour and quickly quashed any lingering question marks over his future by publicly stating his desire to stay at Atletico for next season and thus ending what promised to be a long, tedious saga. The French superstar looked set to join Manchester United after claiming he had a ‘6 out of 10 chance’ of joining Mourinho’s men shortly before they cemented their Champions League place for next season after winning the Europa League. However, Atletico’s transfer ban appeal was rejected last week, and Griezmann, the good guy that he is, opted to stay and not leave his team in a spot of bother by not being able to sign a replacement if he did leave.
The consensus is that Griezmann may probably make the switch to Old Trafford next summer, when Atletico will be able to sign players again. This though, isn’t the first time United have missed out on some of the world’s best players, as these lot will tell you (look away David Moyes):
Back in the summer of 2003, Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho came very close to joining United but opted to sign for Barcelona instead at the last minute. The then PSG forward agreed personal terms with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side after the two clubs settled on a £17 million fee, Ronaldinho even told his national teammate Kleberson to come with him to Old Trafford. However, Barcelona sneaked in at the last minute, with the help of newly appointed president Sandro Rossel and Ronaldinho was Nou Camp bound. It wasn’t all bad that summer though for Fergie, not only did he snap up Kleberson, he also bought in David Bellion from Sunderland. Oh… and some kid called Cristiano Ronaldo…. Never heard of him either.
Wesley Sneijder 2011
The 2011 transfer window was absolutely dominated by talk of Manchester United buying Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan. Every newspaper back-page, every Twitter rumour page lead with Sneijders impending £30 million move. United did make a move for Sneijder, but the Dutchman’s excessive wage demands put Sir Alex Ferguson off a move, with the United manager keen to give youngster Paul Pogba a chance in the first team. Ferguson said back in August 2011, ‘The young boy Pogba is showing great promise. If we hold him back, what’s going to happen? He will leave in a couple of years when his contract has finished.’ So, what happened? Pogba made three appearances before leaving when his contract finished the year after. Not the best of moves that.
Thiago Alcantara 2013
When David Moyes became United manager in 2013, his primary target at the start of that summer was Thiago, then at Barcelona. The Spanish under-21 international was up for grabs after seeking first team football and Moyes made tentative approaches to bring him to United. However, after Moyes stalled, Pep Guardiola, who had just become Bayern’s new managed, pounced and Thiago joined his former Barca youth manager in Bavaria. Moyes later revealed he had doubts about Thiago’s ability to play in England and chose against the move, so he chased other targets instead….
Cesc Fabregas 2013
….. which included this fella. After choosing against signing Thiago, Moyes pursued his Barcelona team mate Cesc Fabregas who was interested in a move back to England. Barca decision makers were said to welcome bids for Fabregas who was struggling to impress in his second spell at his boyhood club. Moyes had had two bids rejected for Fabregas, with the latter around £30 million. It was rumoured that Barca would have accepted a bid of around £35 million and Fabregas even spoke with Moyes on the phone. For some reason Moyes wouldn’t pay more and ended up spending around £27 million on Maroune Fellaini in a panic on deadline day, Fabregas however ended up joining Chelsea the summer after and won the Premier League in his first season there. Good move David.
Sergio Ramos 2015
In the summer of 2015, Louis van Gaal was very keen on bringing Sergio Ramos to United. Ramos was unhappy with his side Real Madrid, who failed to offer him a new contract and was quoted saying in a number of reports that he was ‘ready to leave’ and ‘would only join United’ if he left Madrid. Van Gaal had a couple of bids rejected for the Spaniard and genuinely believed he could sign him. However, Ramos ended up signing a new deal at Real, and used United’s interest to get a better contract. That little swine.
Raphael Varane 2011
Back in 2011, United were the front runners to sign an 18-year-old Raphael Varane from Lens with Sir Alex Ferguson even making a personal trip to seal the deal. However, Varane, who at the time was a youngster playing in the France under-21 side, was swayed to join Real Madrid after then reserves team manager Zinedine Zidane got wind of Sir Alex’s desire to bring him to Old Trafford, and persuaded him to join Real. Ferguson, on the other hand, wasn’t that bothered because he had just signed Phil Jones from Blackburn. Varane admitted that he turned down the chance to join United again last summer and Jose Mourinho’s side are again being linked with him this summer, third time lucky?
Lucas Moura 2012
In his final summer at United, Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign Lucas Moura from Brazilian side Sao Paulo. Ferguson wanted Moura to join summer signings Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell but was put off by Sao Paulo’s valuation of Moura. The Brazilian side wanted £45 million for Lucas, whereas Ferguson wanted to pay £10 million less. Eventually, Lucas ended up joining oil-rich PSG that summer, for the £45 million fee Ferguson was quoted. The transfer angered the Scot, with him saying ‘when somebody’s paying £45 million for a 19-year-old boy you have to say the games gone mad.’ Wonder what he’d think about the game now!
Arjen Robben 2004
Back in 2004, Arjen Robben looked for all the world, set to join Manchester United after his side PSV Eindhoven agreed a fee with United, personal terms were sorted and Robben even had a tour of United’s Carrington training ground. However, the 19-year-old ended up joining Chelsea instead after the Blues stole a march on their Premier League rivals, mostly because of their chief executive, Peter Kenyon who had previously been at United and was a key figure in trying to get Robben to Old Trafford in the first place. Can’t imagine Ferguson would have been too impressed with that either.
Ander Herrera 2013
Before Herrera joined Louis van Gaal’s United in the summer of 2014, he nearly (sort of) joined David Moyes’ side the year before. Shortly before deadline day of the 2013 summer window, it emerged that three men had somehow managed to persuade lawyers of the Spanish League (LFP), that they had authorisation from United to pay Herrera’s buyout clause, around £30 million to sign him from Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao consequently contacted United to confirm whether or not it was true, and United emphatically got back to them saying NO. United were interested in Herrera, but not willing to pay his buyout clause as they felt he still had another year or so until he would be good enough to play for them and only wanted to pay £20 million that particular summer. A year later however, Louis van Gaal made the Spaniard his first signing and he has become a vital part of Jose Mourinho’s team.
Fabio Coentrao 2013
The 2013 summer window was a complete disaster for David Moyes. After failing with pretty much all his targets, Moyes came to deadline day still without a significant signing to shout about. Earlier in the summer he had courted Leighton Baines from former side Everton, but couldn’t agree a move. On deadline day, he made a last-ditch attempt to sign a left-back and moved for Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao. The two clubs agreed a season-long loan deal for the Portuguese international, with a view to a permanent move the summer after, however Real backed out of the deal at the last-minute due to the fact they failed to sign their own left back that day and the move was confirmed to have not gone through the day after. The failed transfer reportedly reduced Coentrao to tears, as he was so keen on a move to Old Trafford, although he was probably crying with joy at the fact he didn’t have to work with Moyes.