What If: Arjen Robben Almost Joined Manchester United In 2003

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Going back in time and thinking what would have happened if things turned out differently is always interesting. Especially for football fans, they like reimagining what could have happened if certain things occurred. What if Manchester United really got Ronaldinho instead of Barcelona, as Ronaldinho himself said could have happened? And what about Nemanja Vidic almost joining Liverpool in December 2005 and not the Devils?

Well, there is another story now. Talking for the FourFourTwo, Arjen Robben revealed there was a real possibility of him joining Manchester United back in late 2003.

“Maybe Chelsea Offered More Money, I Do Not Know”

“I had a very good conversation with him (Ferguson) over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life.

“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.

“There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen. PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know”, Robben said for FourFourTwo.

He then explained that he liked the plans Chelsea laid in front of him when they approached him and that he finished everything with the Blues after one meeting.

“Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed there, but it didn’t happen and I have got no regrets”, Robben insists.

So, what could have happened? Manchester United already got a teenager for some 12 million pounds and his name was Cristiano Ronaldo. Now, they were interested in the Dutch teenager and they could have probably get him for similar amount of money. Yet, that never happened.

So Many What Ifs

The possible reason for that is the emergence of Wayne Rooney. The talks between Roben and United happened in December 2003, but by the summer of 2004, Rooney signed for the Devils in a deal worth 30 million pounds, the world record fee for a teenager 14 years ago.

If United actually got Robben from PSV in January 2004, would there be a huge push for Rooney? Would United be ready to pay big sum of money for a third teenager in the space of a year? It is hard to tell, but it seems like there was already plan for Man United to chase Rooney.

“What I don’t understand is the reason why their approach changed so much because when the offer came in it was about half of what we had spoken about”, said the PSV president Harry van Raaij in February 2004. There could be a case of United already setting their eyes on the Everton wonderkid and realizing they cannot have both.

If that was really the case, Manchester United definitely chose well, as Rooney turned out to be the club’s record goalscorer, going to winning everything there is to win in club football. Yet, there is always that thinking “what if things worked out differently?”.

Arjen Robben could have grown into a superstar at Man United, to the heights some other players attained, winning the Champions League with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. However, that is all counterfactual thinking. Things worked out quite well for all sides, in the end.

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