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Tim Simon picks a dream 5-a-side team who have all been linked to United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s lengthy reign.
5) Arjen Robben
Robben signed for Chelsea in summer 2004 from PSV Eindhoven after having a reported meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson in January of that year. It was widely known that Robben was being closely followed by United for a long time and for Chelsea to come in and snatch him from their grasps hurt at the time. After leaving Chelsea with two Premier League titles, he had a failed spell with Real Madrid and eventually came back to haunt United in the Champions League quarter finals in 2010 scoring a phenomenal volley to knock them out for current side Bayern Munich. However, since Robben turning them down United have won four Premier League titles, a Champions League and three League Cups so it’s not like they have been without success. Despite this, who knows how Robben would have developed as a player at United and at what rate because it’s quite clear that he is a fine winger on his day.
4) Gabriel Batistuta
Sir Alex was a long-time admirer of ‘Batigol’ during the 1990s and there’s no doubt the Argentinian would have been a huge success at the club. Diego Maradona called him ‘the best all round striker of his generation’ and it would be hard to disagree. He is still Argentina’s record goal scorer and if it wasn’t for his love for Italian football, Batistuta would probably have been seen in a United shirt. If he had signed for United, they would have had one of the most lethal strike-forces to ever be seen in the Premier League, if they didn’t already. It would have been fantastic to see him play in England but in the end it just wasn’t to be.
3) Michael Essien
After Roy Keane left Old Trafford in 2005, there was and some might say still is a gaping hole in their midfield with some fans begging for a holding midfielder to be bought by Sir Alex. Essien would have fit that bill perfectly. It was reported that United tried to sign Essien when he was 17 but didn’t due to a failed work permit and were known admirers of the Ghanaian during his time at Lyon. A series of knee injuries in recent years has seen Essien’s value deteriorate slightly but in his first few years at Chelsea he was an unbelievable player and was even rated as the best holding midfielder in the world at one stage of his Stamford Bridge career. It would have been fascinating to see him fill the boots of Keane at Old Trafford.
2) Alan Shearer
The Premier League’s record goal scorer has turned down offers from United twice, first of all when he signed for Blackburn in 1992 and perhaps more famously when he signed for Newcastle, his boy hood club in 1996. Shearer’s rejection of United has to be one of the most famous snubs of them all. It’s incredible that despite scoring the amount of goals he did, Shearer only won one title in his career, with Blackburn in 1994. Imagine he had signed for United and how many goals he could have scored with that midfield playing behind him. Some might say he made a mistake in not joining United and winning all those medals with the Old Trafford club but I’m sure he still believes he made the correct decision due to how highly he is thought of in Newcastle and let’s be honest; the chance of joining your hometown club doesn’t come along very often.
What a player Ronaldinho was at Barcelona, winning countless team and individual awards and being recognised as the best player in the world for at least two seasons. Back in 2003, Man United were outbid by the Catalan giants for the Brazilian maestro. They went onto buy Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo who were better long term investments but between 2003 and 2006, there was no one that could compare to Ronaldinho. He was one of a kind. There is no doubt he would have slotted into United’s team behind Ruud van Nistelrooy and lit up the Premier League just like Eric Cantona did in the 1990s. The Brazilian has recently said that United would have won more trophies if he had chosen them over Barcelona and who are we to argue as in the years he was lighting up Spain, United went through a baron spell trophy wise by their high standards. He was an unbelievable player who would have been an instant success at Old Trafford.
Follow Tim on Twitter @TimSimon90