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11 Players Manchester United Were Definitely Going To Sign... Until They Didn't

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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It's hard work keeping up with the "news" when you're a Manchester United fan during the Summer months, as everyday several new players are linked, often tenuously, with a move to Old Trafford.

This isn't a new phenomenon. While ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired it seems as though the Man United transfer circus has kicked into overdrive, Manchester United have a long history of getting their fans' hopes up only for nothing to ever materialise.

Here are 11 players that were absolutely definitely going to sign for Manchester United... Until they didn't.


A painfully obvious first player on this list, everybody should remember the Ronaldinho transfer frenzy that occupied the Summer of 2003. David Beckham had left for Real Madrid, and a year after shining at the 2002 World Cup Ronadinho was the hottest talent in Europe. United were believed on the verge of securing the Brazilian, but in the end he went to Barcelona, and the rumour that quickly spread was that Ronaldinho wanted a helicopter that could fly him to London in his spare time, which United were not willing to give him. Odd.

Patrick Kluivert

After impressing at the 1998 World Cup, Patrick Kluivert was a wanted man. Sir Alex Ferguson gave the go ahead to sign the big Dutchman, despite a disappointing season with AC Milan, and it was widely reported that Kluivert fancied a move to Manchester. That was, until Barcelona came in, and big Paddy dropped everything to sign on the dotted line with the Catalan club.


Marcelo Salas

Another striker that Alex Ferguson took notice of during the 1998 World Cup was Chilean Marcelo Salas. Ferguson has since admitted his frustration at being unable to convince Lazio to sell him, and United fans will remember how regularly the news of a move was reported from 1998 to 2001, when Salas signed for Juventus and played just 17 times in three seasons.

Paul Gascoigne


Now considered to be one of the great "what if" questions in football, had Paul Gascoigne not picked Spurs over United there is no telling what Ferguson's influence could have done for his career. Gazza revealed that he had agreed to join United over the phone, but when Spurs came in offering more money, a house for his parents, a car for his dad, and a sunbed for his sister, the Newcastle man opted for the capital city. Even in 1988 the papers went wild linking Gazza to United.

Paolo Di Canio


Manchester United were linked non stop with West Ham's troublemaking striker back in 2002, but famously couldn't complete a deal because they couldn't find a buyer for Dwight Yorke, even after Paolo had apparently cried while telling his teammates that he was off to Old Trafford. Ferguson has since said that Di Canio could have gone on to greatness at United, in a similar vein to Eric Cantona.


Wesley Sneijder

Nearly every week of the summer of 2011 produced a confirmation that Manchester United had signed Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan. And then again in 2012, and 2013. In the Summer of 2014 when Louis Van Gaal took over at Old Trafford, we all had a good last laugh at the Sneijder to United rumours, but really, lets just be thankful they are gone.

Gabriel Batistuta


This one had a bit more substance to it than most, as Sir Alex Ferguson had actually agreed a deal for iconic Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta. Manchester United fans knew him well from some devastating Champions League performances at their club's expense, and after newspapers jumped the gun they were all excited, only for chairman Martin Edwards to block the deal, as bringing in Batistuta would have destroyed United's wage structure. A shame.

Nico Gaitan

It's hard to believe that Nico Gaitan is still a Benfica player, so insistent were the stories that he was on his way to Old Trafford in the summer of 2012. This is actually a story that is still running today, despite it being painfully obvious that Manchester United won't be signing him.


Eden Hazard

In the Summer of 2012, it was time for hotly tipped youngster Eden Hazard to leave Lille. After being linked with Manchester United for the previous 12 months, Chelsea emerged as a possible destination, and we were left with a standoff. Hazard pissed everyone off by making cryptic tweets and playing coy in the media, but we were finally given a date and time when Hazard would announce whether he was going to be playing in blue or red from then on. You know the rest.

Karim Benzema


Another player who you can still find bullshit rumours about if you search their name followed by "MUFC" on twitter is Karim Benzema. After he impressed for Lyon in the Champions League group stages against United back in 2008, United were reported to have agreed a £30m fee for Benzema, who was clearly destined for big things, but lo and behold the Frenchman was holding up a Real Madrid shirt before long.

Alan Shearer

Famous for rejecting Manchester United on two occasions, Alan Shearer maintains his happiness with his decisions. Firstly, Jack Walker managed to convince Shearer to join Blackburn, where he played a massive role in winning the Premier League, but when things turned sour, Shearer was all set to move to United before his boyhood club came in late, and that was that.


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