Ronaldinho, Neymar, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos and the best XI of stars Man Utd almost signed over the years

THE glory days are well and truly on hold at Manchester United at the moment.

After years of domination under Sir Alex Ferguson, including their famous 1999 treble-winning campaign, the Red Devils have been heading backwards in recent years.

A string of poor managerial appointments and transfers have played their part with money being thrown up the wall on big-name flops.

But it could have looked all so different had United landed their No1 transfer targets.

We've compiled a list of world superstars that could have easily joined the Old Trafford ranks over the years.

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Manuel Neuer

In 2011, United were after a new stopper with Edwin van der Sar calling time on his career.

Fergie had initially wanted Neuer who was available from Schalke but coach Eric Steele was adamant David De Gea should be signed instead.

Steele convinced Ferguson to watch the Spaniard in one game with Atletico Madrid and that was all it took to convince him.

The legendary manager once explained: “Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke.

“And I think Schalke would’ve been happy if we’d have gone and taken him.

“So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea."

De Gea moved to United for £17.8million that summer while Neuer went to Bayern Munich for a similar fee.

Philipp Lahm

The legendary right-back had the chance to move to United in 2015.

He revealed how both United and Barcelona were eyeing up a switch and he seriously considered the Premier League.

Lahm said: "As a player, you always think about your options and there was a time when Manchester United made an approach for me.

"The Premier League was an interesting possibility but in the end I decided to stay in Germany."

Raphael Varane

Jose Mourinho was in the market for a new central defender in 2016.

Having managed Varane during his time as Real Madrid manager, the Frenchman was his No1 target.

But Zinedine Zidane persuaded Varane to stay at the Bernabeu and United instead signed Eric Bailly.

Sergio Ramos

United made their move for the Real Madrid legend in the summer of 2015.

Boss Louis van Gaal had offered £28.6m for the defender with just two years left on his contract in Spain.

Ramos would later reveal how close he come to 'making a change' but opted to sign a new deal with Real.

United would end up signing Argentine flop Marcos Rojo.

Leighton Baines

When David Moyes was appointed Fergie's successor in 2013, he attempted to raid his former club for both Baines and Marouane Fellaini.

He initially made a joint £36m bid for both before later separately offering £15m for the England left-back.

The Toffees weren't prepared to lose both of their key men and reluctantly allowed Fellaini to leave for £27.5m on deadline day but Baines was forced to stay put.

Luka Modric

Fergie wanted the Croatian superstar as a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes in midfield in 2012.

At the time he was pulling up trees with Tottenham but the Scot pulled out of a move because of his trouble dealing with Daniel Levy.

Just a year later Modric joined Real Madrid and cemented his reputation as one of the best midfielders in the world.

Toni Kroos

The Bayern Munich defender was seeking a new challenge before the 2014 World Cup.

He had just spent six years at the Allianz and ex-United boss Moyes was confident of landing his signature.

But Real Madrid swooped in and landed his signing from right underneath their noses.

He would later say: "Manchester had a lot of interest in me before the World Cup and a deal was close.

"Then my agent called me and told me about Real Madrid, and when Real Madrid appear you put Manchester behind them in the line."


It was one of the most famous transfers to have never happened.

Back in 2003, David Beckham had just signed for Real Madrid and United were after a superstar to replace him.

Ronaldinho was at Paris Saint-Germain and was cementing his reputation as one of the most talented players on the planet.

However Barcelona completed the deal and Fergie would blame chief executive at the time, Peter Kenyon.

He said: "There was a problem with his brother, who was his agent, but Peter Kenyon, who was chief executive then, didn't get the job done."


The Brazilian winger was wanted by Van Gaal as the Dutchman plotted a summer splurge.

Neymar still had three years left on his contract at Barcelona in 2015 but was keeping his options open wanting to get out of Lionel Messi's shadow.

His father and agent confirmed: "Manchester United is the side that offered €190m (£144m) for Neymar.

"He has still two years left on his contract but you all can be calm as my son is so happy here."

Neymar would let his contract run into the final year before making the £198m move to PSG.

Arjen Robben

The Dutch winger was enjoying a rise through the ranks as a 19-year-old for PSV Eindhoven in 2003.

He travelled to Carrington and even had dinner with Ferguson as they discussed a potential switch.

Robben went back to PSV expecting to complete his move to Manchester but the Red Devils refused to match the asking price.

He would eventually move to Chelsea in the same summer.

Robert Lewandowski

The ex-Borussia Dortmund man was wanted by a host of top clubs in the summer of 2012.

He had just bagged an impressive 30 goals in all competitions and Fergie was ready to make his move.

The Poland international recalled: "I was speaking with him [Ferguson] after two years at Dortmund and at that time I was really thinking about a move to Manchester United.

“Because of Ferguson and because of Manchester United.

“Borussia Dortmund said: ‘No, that’s that.’ That was the first time I was thinking about the move because if you get a phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson, for a young player it was something amazing. That was a special day for me.”

Lewandowski would play two more seasons at Dortmund before completing his switch to Bayern.

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