Sheva? Batistuta? Kluivert? Who did you want to see?


Andriy Shevchenko today stated that United tried to sign him when he was playing for Dynamo Kyiv back in 1999.  Shevchenko and Rebrov struck a superb partnership in the late 90’s and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League under the guidance of legendary manager Valery Lobanovsky.  Dynamo Kyiv lost to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals but a new star of European Football was born.  Shevchenko revealed that he could have joined either Barcelona or Manchester United at 22 but chose the, then, five times European Champions AC Milan.  Over the years United have been linked to a number of star players throughout Europe who fell through the net for one reason or the other – who did you most regret not signing over the years?  The following article looks at some of the top players over the years who were linked with United.

Gabriel Batistuta – United were linked with the powerful Argentinian hitman through out the 1990’s and also just before his £22Million move to Roma in 2000 (aged 32). Possible reasons for not signing was his loyalty to Fiorentina (having played in Serie B for them back in 1993), price for then one of the top marksmen in European Football and his ability to adapt to the English game. He scored 168 goals in 239 games for Viola and I have no doubt would have been a hit had he signed in the mid-90’s.
Possible players missed out on/hindered progress: Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
United Factor (success or not): 8 (out of 10)

Zinedine Zidane – The best player of my generation growing up – Zidane was apparently available for transfer after his impressive 1995/96 campaign where he helped Bordeaux to the UEFA Cup final. The Frenchman went to Juventus to follow in the footsteps of Michel Platini and became a success both in Serie A and subsequently in La Liga following a £49 Million record breaking transfer. The story i’ve always heard was that Ferguson wanted to play Zidane on the right hand side of midfield but was concerned about the progress of Beckham.
Possible players missed out on/hindered progress: David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona, Juan Veron
United Factor (success or not): 10 (out of 10)

Marcel Desailly – Like a brick wall for Marseille, AC Milan and later at Chelsea – Desailly was one of the best most versatile defenders in his day. Comfortable in midfield, the Frenchman (who was sent of in the World Cup final for a laughable challenge on Cafu) played in and scored in one of the most shock European Cup finals of all time. The 4-0 defeat of Barcelona was summed up with the commentary ‘and Desailly looks to curl one!’ before bending the ball from the edge of the box past Johan Cruyff’s dream team. Desailly revealed (in FourFourTwo magazine) that he had all but signed a pre-contractual agreement with United in 1998 before the deal feel through. He would no doubt have been a success at United but would United have signed a certain Dutch center half.
Possible players missed out on/hindered progress: Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnson, Nicky Butt
United Factor (success or not): 8 (out of 10)

Patrick Kluivert – Romantically stroked the ball past Sebastiano Rossi to secure the 1995 Champions League final and escalate the young Dutchman to superstar status. Born on the same day as Ruud Van Nistelrooy – Kluivert never reached the heights of that night in Vienna, however could well have been a success with the delivery from Beckham and Scholes after he fell out of favour at AC Milan in 1998. It was reported that the striker could have chosen a move to United, Barcelona or Arsenal (who were Champions at the time). The Ducthman choose Catalonia and United choose Dwight Yorke – the rest is history.
Possible players missed out on/hindered progress: Andy Cole, Ruud VanNistelrooy, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
United Factor (success or not): 7 (out of 10)

A lot of this could be paper talk, a lot of this could have been fragmented conversations overheard in a smokey pub – but – there is no doubt that the likes of the above along with Alan Shearer, Paulo Di Canio, Luis Figo, Lillian Thuram, Ronaldo and Shevchenko were linked to United in the past – and they say there is no smoke without fire! So just for a bit of fun – who do you wish had signed? Who’s progress would have been hindered by the purchase? And how much of a success would the player of been at Old Trafford? I would have gone for Zidane, who I honestly believe is the finest playmaker i’ve seen. He had the temperament, flair and character to perform at Old Trafford and could have been integrated into a team that consisted of Cantona, Scholes (who was down the pecking order at the time) and Beckham.

9 Comments on Sheva? Batistuta? Kluivert? Who did you want to see?

  1. Batistuta,`coz he was one of my favorite players that wasn`t playing for ManU … but hey, we had Torke , Cole ,Teddy and Ole … can`t ask for more x))

  2. To be honest, Alan Shearer should have been the fittest of all, but Zinedine is my choice. He could have been the best mildfielder the world will ever have but lost this to not playing in man utd. we worship players as if its only GOD & them. Zidane’s flair, stamina & strenght would have enhanced this. Honestly we lost him & he should realise he lost playing in man utd

  3. Ogundeji – I don’t agree about the comments with Zidane. I think he would have no doubt been a major success at United but I honestly do think he was the best midfielder in the world in the early part of this century. But I agree with you on that I would have liked to have seen him at Old Trafford.

  4. I would have loved to see Zizzzoooou.

    There was something that entices me about the composure with which he moved/on the ball/with the ball/ about the ball in midfield.

    If I dare, he had something mythical about him and It would have been interesting to see that.

  5. I would say from that list Batigol. I’ll always remember the fact that he scored the goal the first time I ever applauded or even begrudgingly appreciated a goal scored against us. He had everything I loved in a striker, absolutely thought he was great.

    I have to be a little controversial and say I’m glad we didn’t sign Zidane. It would have been good to see him at Old Trafford but we had the best midfield in Europe for 5 years with Keane and Scholes running the show. Zidane was a brilliant player but I honestly believe that in Scholes and Giggs we had at least his equal at Old Trafford over that period. Giggs in particular has stayed at the top and peak for nearly 18 years, always challenging for the top trophies and always being a major player in the United side.

    Zidane was awesome and did some special things on the big stage too and without doubt is one of the greatest ever but Giggs and Scholes I think have been more consistent and their longevity, in that they are still able to dictate and run a game against any top midfield, while you could tell Zidane was on his last legs.

    Desailly would have been interesting but it seems it would have been instead of Stam and not alongside, so again the way it turned out was pretty good.

  6. Good post Yolkie and yes totally agree that in signing someone you might have missed out or hindered another player. For example signing David Hirst in 1992 would have meant that Eric Cantona would not have signed for United. Same perhaps with Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo (I can’t believe I failed to mention the Brazilian).

    Batistuta’s goal at Old Trafford in 1999 was fantastic. A sublime strike at the Stretford End. Superb player.

  7. Yep, and the same with Collymore/Cole in 1995, Shearer/Solskjaer in 1996 and who knows, Benzema/Owen could turn out to have a similar success rate. It’s not done too badly so far!

    Though I believe we would have signed Ronaldo no matter what, after the players reaction to playing against him.

    The one player I would have loved to have seen at OT was the Brazilian Ronaldo. Under Fergie, he could have gone on to be the best ever, just imagine how amazing he could have been.

    We can’t complain because we have been totally spoiled with success and in some ways it’s better that we did it with a core of youngsters but you can’t help but wonder what the boardroom morons were thinking when Fergie went and asked for the money for the likes of Batistuta, Desailly and Ronaldo and was told no.

  8. Batistuta without a doubt. One of the most deadliest strikers of all time. With service from Giggs and Beckham, we would have destroyed opposiing teams. For midfield, it would have been great to bring David Ginola to old trafford. He was an incredible asset for spurs in the midfield during the 90s.

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