Ronaldo, Bale, Kroos: 11 Man United transfer sagas that ended in disappointment with Sancho deal stalling

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Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi recently expressed his disbelief that Manchester United currently don’t have the equivalent at Old Trafford.

“This is my opinion - all clubs should have this position,” Monchi said in an interview with the Telegraph.

“I do understand there are very successful clubs - Manchester United are probably one of the top five in the world, but they do not have that specific position.”

So one imagines that Monchi can sympathise with Man United fans right now.

The Red Devils have managed to land just one player in the transfer window - Donny van de Beek - despite being linked with a wave of new additions.

From seeing Sergio Reguilon join Tottenham to failing to sign Jadon Sancho, it’s been a frustrating summer for the club.

Borussia Dortmund’s Sancho was their priority target. But with the German side holding firm on their €120 million asking price and United stuttering, it seems like a deal won’t happen before Monday’s deadline.

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Ed Woodward’s title at the club is executive vice-chairman but he’s not been able to execute much in the transfer window since his promotion to the position in 2013.

Oh yes, Sancho isn’t the first deal Woodward hasn’t been able to complete. And he probably won’t be the last.

We’ve decided to take a look at 11 other transfer sagas that ended in disappointment for United.

Antoine Griezmann

In 2017, it seemed like Antoine Griezmann was set to join United after it was reported that he had agreed personal terms with the club.

But a combination of Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban and a long-term injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant the deal didn’t happen.

“Now more than ever!,” Griezmann wrote on Twitter after Atletico’s transfer ban was upheld, while United targeted a main striker following Ibrahimovic’s injury.

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Paulo Dybala

United spoke to Juventus about Paulo Dybala in the summer of 2019 but the Argentinian forward decided to stay with the Serie A giants as he didn’t want to leave under a cloud.

“There were some clubs that were interested in me. Among those were Manchester United and Tottenham. I think for a long time there were conversations, then Paris Saint-Germain also appeared,” Dybala told CNN.

"I did not speak directly to any of them, but there were conversations with the clubs. However, my intention at the time was to stay.

"I hadn't had a good year or a positive last six months, so I didn't want to leave with that image because I think I had given the club a lot of nice moments and it wasn't fair that I went like this.”

Dybala bounced back with a strong 2019/20 season, justifying his decision to stay.

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Wesley Sneijder

A list of Man United’s failed transfers wouldn’t be complete without Wesley Sneijder, would it?

The Dutch midfielder was continuously linked with the Red Devils and in 2011, admitted that he had held “unofficial talks” over a move from Inter Milan.

Three years later, Sneijder revealed that he had rejected United as he wanted to continue playing Champions League football with Galatasaray.

Then, following Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford in 2016, Sneijder said he had held talks with his former Inter manager, sparking further speculation about a transfer.

Sneijder retired from football in 2019, so we’ll never have to hear about his potential move to Man United again. Thankfully.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s return to Man United has been mentioned more than once in recent years.

Indeed, Patrice Evra revealed earlier this year that Sir Alex Ferguson managed to get Ronaldo to agree to come back just two weeks before the Scot’s retirement in 2013.

Recent reports throwing Ronaldo’s Juventus career into doubt led to further links to United. But it’s hard to imagine the Portuguese forward returning while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unable to guarantee a strong Champions League pursuit.

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Nicolas Gaitan

Similarly to Sneijder, rarely a transfer window went by without ‘Man United interested in signing Nicolas Gaitan’ emerging in multiple news outlets.

During his time as a highly-rated winger at Benfica, United’s admiration for Gaitan made headlines every year.

But he never made the switch to England and eventually signed for Atletico Madrid in 2016.

It put a welcome end to the incessant reports that he would join United, although the Argentinian has admitted that work permit issues are the reason he didn’t move to the Premier League.

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Ivan Perisic

Former Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic received an offer to join Man United in 2017, but turned it down to remain under the tutelage of Luciano Spalletti at the San Siro.

“It’s true that an offer from Manchester United was on the table - I was really close to leaving Inter,” Perisic told FourFourTwo.

“When Luciano Spalletti arrived [in June 2017], he showed tremendous desire to keep me in the team and made it clear he didn’t want to lose me. 

“That was very encouraging, and I haven’t regretted my decision to stay at Inter. In football, small details in these situations are key."

Perisic is one of those players that you just know would have made United better. He’s just helped Bayern Munich complete a treble-winning season, scoring three goals in their successful Champions League run.

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Matthijs de Ligt 

Ajax’s stunning 2018/19 season earned the attention of Europe’s big clubs and Matthijs de Ligt was one of the players that they began fighting over.

Juventus won the battle but United were interested, having kept eyes on the centre-back from the early days of his youth career, according to the Manchester Evening News.

They were unable to lure him to Old Trafford once Juventus made their interest known, with Cristiano Ronaldo even helping Juve’s campaign.

“Of course, I had a lot of time to choose between the clubs I could join and, when I put everything on paper, Juventus were the best choice for me,” De Ligt told Wojciech Szczesny for YouTube channel Foot Truck.

“Ronaldo did speak to me and obviously it was a big honour!”

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Raphael Varane

Man United have been keen to sign French centre-back Raphael Varane more than once.

In his 2015 book Leading, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he wanted to bring Varane to United following his impressive debut season for Lens.

“In 2011 I hurtled down to Lille. Zinedine Zidane got wind of this and somehow scooped him up for Real Madrid,” Ferguson wrote.

United ended up signing Phil Jones in 2011, so who’s the real winner?

Anyway, fast forward five years and Varane was again wanted by United following Jose Mourinho’s arrival.

Mourinho had worked with Varane at Real Madrid and was keen on a reunion. But the defender was convinced to stay in the Spanish capital and, let’s face it, he’ll be glad he did.

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Toni Kroos

Man United had Toni Kroos in their grasp in 2014, which makes this all the more difficult to stomach.

In an interview with The Athletic, Kroos revealed that a deal “had basically been done”. But it broke down following David Moyes’ sacking, and Real Madrid swooped in.

"David Moyes had come to see me and the contract had basically been done but then Moyes was fired and Louis van Gaal came in, which complicated matters," Kroos, who has helped Real win three Champions League trophies, said.

“Louis wanted time to build his own project. I didn't hear anything from United for a while and started having doubts. Then the World Cup started and Carlo Ancelotti called. And that was it."

Nothing sums up United’s disorganisation in recent years more than this screw up.

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Gareth Bale

David Moyes was hopeful about signing Gareth Bale in his first summer with the club.

“By the time we got to the end of the transfer window, we always thought we had a chance of getting Gareth Bale," Moyes told beIN SPORTS in 2019, per Sky Sports.

"We hoped we could talk him out of going to Real Madrid because it was already half done.

"We had offered more money, we tried to entice him. We did [have a helicopter ready] and we tried.”

But Bale’s heart was set on a move to Real Madrid, and he joined Los Blancos in a world-record deal from Tottenham.

Never mind. Bale’s struggles in Spain made him available once again this summer, and United surely wouldn’t let him slip through their fingers again, would they?

They would.

According to ESPN, the Welshman was keen to move to Old Trafford but grew tired of waiting for United’s hierarchy to make a decision on Sancho.

United dithered and Bale returned to Spurs instead. Ouch.

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Eden Hazard

Chelsea beat Man United in the battle to sign Eden Hazard from Lille in 2012.

Ferguson was desperate to sign him though, and in conversations with the Belgian brought up  Ronaldo as an example of how United would help Hazard fulfil his potential, according to ESPN.

The Scot’s persuasion techniques were ineffective though, and Hazard went on to light up the Premier League in blue instead of red.

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