Now, ex-United great Ferdinand great thinks that the club may regret not snapping up the then Championship player for a bargain price.
Manchester United have needed defensive stability for several seasons, so no surprise that Rio recommended a centre-back. Namely, Ben Godfrey, the 23-year-old who's made a sensational start to life at Everton after a £25 million summer move.
Ferdinand explained that he told higher-ups at Old Trafford that Godfrey would be a future star in 2019, while he was breaking through at Norwich. Now, Godrey is being tipped for England honours.
"Anyone had a chance to sign him because Norwich were going to let him go," Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel, per TEAMtalk.
"Listen, I told you before I'd spoken to various people at different clubs, [Manchester] United being one of them as well.
"They could've had Ben when he was about £12 million or £15 million, when he just went to Norwich. He'd been there about half a season or a season."
Godfrey is a centre-back who's earning acclaim for his accomplished skills on the ball, just as Ferdinand did during his early days at West Ham. So no surprise that Rio would be raving about Godfrey's potential several years ago.
However the 42-year-old explained that he understands that possible signings slipping through the net is just part and parcel of football.
"Listen, there's so many players we could look at and say: they were missed at that point and they had to pay more," he said.
"That's just life, that's part of it, and there's different judges. Ninety-nine people can judge a player and not like him and one just says: 'Bang, he's for me.'
"It's just that I've seen these boys grow so I know what's under their bonnet. I know what they're carrying in their toolbox."
Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may want to add a new centre-back to his own toolbox very soon, but it's unlikely to be Godfrey. As it would take a serious amount of money to prise him away from Goodison Park given the start he's made with Everton.
All imagery: PA Images
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