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Ronaldinho (left), Ramos (right) Photo: MARCA
  • Despite United being one of the most prestigious club, there are players who, for some reason rejected a move to Old Trafford
  • In 2008 Aaron Ramsy ditched United for Arsenal after a deal had been made, and it had appeared that he was on his way to United
  • Manchester United’s attractiveness in the transfer market hasn’t diminished despite their struggles

Manchester United can still attract the best players globally, whether they are brought in as part of a long-term recruitment strategy or as a stopgap for short-term gain. 

Here, Sportsleo looks back on some stars who have escaped United’s grasp over the years.


Players rejected Manchester United

Payet claims he had interest from Man Utd before returning to Marseille. Photo: Getty Images

The latest player to admit he turned down United’s offers is Dimitri Payet, who said in 2017 that he preferred Marseille to Manchester after a stunning two-year stay at West Ham.

  “I’m not someone who lives with regrets. I chose, which was just as much related to football as it was to family, to come back to Marseille,” Payet told RMC Sport. “There were other clubs, big clubs.

“There were Manchester United and others. It was a personal and family choice. I think it was the best for my family and me.”

 Sportsleo looks back on some of the other stars who have escaped United’s grasp over the years.


Players rejected Manchester United

In 2003 Ronaldinho chose Barcelona over United. Photo: Getty Images

It’s a real pity that Ronaldinho never made the Premier League his playground.

It could have happened if the Brazilian wizard had chosen to join United from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003 when Ferguson was interested in signing the exciting player.

Instead, he chose Barcelona, where he established himself as one of the greatest flair players of all time, before moving on to AC Milan and Flamengo at the close of his career.


Players rejected Manchester United

Sadio Mane. Photo: Getty Images

Before moving to Liverpool, Louis Van Gaal named Sadio Mane one of his top targets.

The Senegal international may have seemed like an ordinary signing at the time, but his growth into one of the finest in the world on Merseyside demonstrates just what United had missed out on.


Rarely has a player been linked to a club for such a long time without ever completing a deal.

 When Bale was coming through the ranks at Southampton before moving to Tottenham, United was one of the clubs interested in him.

Despite David Moyes’ attempts to recruit Bale to Old Trafford during the Scott’s ill-fated reign, Bale picked Real Madrid in 2013. 

A move to United had been discussed in recent years, but it never materialised, and the ship eventually sailed last season after a loan return to Spurs.


Players rejected Manchester United

Toni Kroos. Photo: Sky Sports

Kroos belongs to the elite group of midfielders. United got so close to signing but was unable to complete the transaction. 

After being sacked in 2014, Moyes stated that the German maestro had almost agreed to join the Red Devils but changed his mind to join Real Madrid instead. 

The World Cup champion exudes quality, and he has won four Champions League titles during his incredible career.


Few players have the option of playing for Manchester United, Chelsea, or Manchester City, but Hazard had that luxury in 2012.

 After outshining at Lille, the flying Belgian was Europe’s hottest property, with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson keeping an eye on him in France.

However, Hazard’s decision to go to west London was influenced by Chelsea’s most unexpected Champions League victory.

 As it turned out, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as he dominated the Premier League throughout his time at Stamford Bridge.


Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos. Photo: Marca

United is no stranger to being used as a bargaining chip in contract discussions between superstars and their top teams.

Despite Sergio Ramos’ stated intention to leave Real Madrid for Manchester United in 2015, this appeared not to be the case.

Ramos was heavily linked with a spectacular departure from Los Blancos, but he instead chose to devote his future to the club by signing a five-year contract.

 The optimism killed United supporters since he was an exceptional defender at the pinnacle of his powers.


Haaland, like Bellingham, was able to get away with a sliver of a price tag. Despite discussions with fellow countryman and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Haaland preferred Dortmund, and the Black and Yellows were allowed to complete RB Salzburg’s €22.5 million (£18.5 million) release clause.

Ed Woodward’s failure to capture Haaland will be remembered as one of his many mistakes as the club’s executive vice-chairman.


Players rejected Manchester United

Cesc Fabrigas. Photo: TEAMtalk

The first and only summer transfer window under David Moyes swiftly devolved into a dark comedy, with Fabregas playing a pivotal role.

Moyes was open about his desire to sign the World Cup champion, only for the Spaniard to remain at Barcelona and fight for his place.

Instead, Ferguson’s replacement signed Marouane Fellaini on deadline day for an inflated fee, and Fabregas joined Chelsea a year later. Fabregas went on to win the Premier League title at Stamford Bridge due to that move.


Players rejected Manchester United

Shearer preferred New Castle over United afte Ferguson was anxious to get him. Photo: Getty Images

United fans famously still sing ‘cheer up Alan Shearer,’ imagining what it could have been like for the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer if he had moved to Old Trafford during Ferguson’s reign of terror.

Shearer doesn’t seem to have any regrets. Despite a phone call from Ferguson, who was anxious to sign him in the summer of 1996, the Geordie couldn’t resist a move from Blackburn to his boyhood club Newcastle.


In 2008, United infamously produced an article on their website claiming that they had agreed on a deal for the Cardiff City wonderkid and that he appeared to be on his way to the club.

Ramsey later claimed he felt more wanted in north London after joining Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.


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