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The 10 players who turned down Sir Alex Ferguson after he tried to convince them to sign for Man Utd

The 10 players who turned down Sir Alex Ferguson after he tried to convince them to sign for Man Utd

A handful of players turned down the opportunity to join the Old Trafford club in Ferguson's golden era.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were among the most attractive clubs in the world for prospective signings.

Ferguson’s 26 seasons at United saw 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two Champions League titles. Any player joining the club was essentially guaranteeing themself silverware as well as the opportunity to be coached by one of the game’s greatest managers.

However, there are a handful of players who turned down the opportunity to join the Old Trafford club in that golden era. Here are ten who snubbed Ferguson’s United.

Gareth Bale

In 2006/07 Gareth Bale was exhibiting some of the traits that would see him develop into a future star.

The then Southampton youngster had interest from a host of clubs, including United.

Southampton are said to have turned down United’s bid for Bale, with Tottenham ultimately luring the Welshman to White Hart Lane.

Patrick Kluivert

In Ferguson’s autobiography, he states how keen he was to bring Patrick Kluivert to Old Trafford after the World Cup in 1998.

The striker was allegedly initially happy to join, only to be lured by the prospect of joining Barcelona instead.

United eventually brought in Dwight Yorke, and the team went on to win the treble that season.

Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar was among the keepers linked to United back in 1999 upon the departure of Peter Schmeichel.

However, upon leaving Ajax, Van der Sar made it clear he would be joining Italian giants Juventus, with Mark Bosnich making his way to Old Trafford on a free transfer instead.

Of course, Van der Sar would later go on to sign for United, winning the Champions League with the club in 2008.

John Obi Mikel

John Obi-Mikel caught Ferguson’s attention while playing for Lyn Oslo in Norway back in 2005. A deal was reportedly struck up worth £4million, with the player subsequently appearing in a press conference donning a United shirt and expressing his delight at signing for United.

However, Chelsea then claimed they had already agreed a deal with Mikel’s agent. The midfielder then received threats back in Norway and disappeared, with people speculating that he may have been kidnapped.

When Mikel re-emerged he said he had been pressured into signing for United, adding that he wanted to play for Chelsea. The three clubs later settled the affair, with Chelsea paying Lyn a £4million fee and offering up £12million to United to buy Mikel out of his contract there.

Mikel even appeared at a press conference wearing a United shirt (Getty)
Mikel even appeared at a press conference wearing a United shirt (Getty)

David Hirst

In 1992, Ferguson tried to temp David Hirst to Old Trafford on six occasions, but Sheffield Wednesday wouldn’t sell.

Hirst, who had just broken into the England team, was even the subject of a rejected £3million bid at the time. Instead, United went on to sign Eric Cantona.

A couple of months later, Hirst damaged his ankle, which sparked injury problems that would plague his career.

Aaron Ramsey

In 2008 United announced Aaron Ramsey was on his way to Old Trafford. This was not actually the case.

Despite having been told by his then-manager David Jones and football idol Ryan Giggs to move to United the Cardiff youngster opted to join Arsenal instead.

He cited Arsene Wenger’s personability as the deciding factor, while he was reportedly unhappy at United’s presumption that he had already signed him.


Upon David Beckham leaving United for Real Madrid in 2003, United reportedly agreed personal terms to bring Ronaldinho to Old Trafford.

However, Barcelona, spurred on by losing Beckham to their bitter rivals, took advantage of the prolonged negotiations between Paris Saint-Germain and United and hijacked the move for Ronaldinho.

After the setback, United signed a young up-and-coming winger named Cristiano Ronaldo.

United wanted Ronaldinho as a Beckham replacement (Getty)
United wanted Ronaldinho as a Beckham replacement (Getty)

Arjen Robben

In 2004, Arjen Robben and his dad travelled to visit United and Ferguson, with the player reportedly keen to join.

Robben’s father said at the time: “We have taken a look around and have spoken with manager Alex Ferguson, We have a good feeling about it. We had permission to take a look at the club. On Friday and Saturday, we did that. Manager Alex Ferguson showed us the stadium and the training accommodation. Furthermore, we had dinner with him.

“Before we went to Manchester, we had two questions in mind. We would like to know the environment of the club and how many matches Robben could play. Following talks with Ferguson, this could be 40 matches. Both questions has been answered very positively. It will be PSV or Manchester United. We are thinking about that now”

Meanwhile, Robben admitted: “It would be fantastic if I could play for Manchester United”.

However, Chelsea’s £18million bid stalled the United move and saw the Dutchman join the Londoners instead.

Paul Gascoigne joined Tottenham instead of United (Getty)
Paul Gascoigne joined Tottenham instead of United (Getty)

Paul Gascoigne

In 1988, United and Tottenham both entered the race to sign the Young Player of the Year Paul Gascoigne. While the midfielder was said to have preferred a move to Liverpool, he reportedly made a promise to United and Ferguson that he would be their player the following season.

However, Gascoigne ultimately U-turned and opted to sign for Tottenham instead, because the north Londoners bought his parents a house.

Ferguson has since stated in his autobiography that the biggest disappointment in his career was not signing Gazza.

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer turned down the advances of United in 1992 and 1996. The first time was while he was a youngster at Southampton, with United making a then-British record offer. However, the club didn’t conclude a deal quickly enough with Blackburn Rovers subsequently swooping in to sign the forward.

In 1996 Shearer, who had just won the Golden Boot at Euro 96 and was the Premierships record goal scorer, announced he would be leaving Blackburn.

Both United and Newcastle agreed to a world record £15million fee, only for Shearer to opt for the latter, his boyhood club.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Premier League, Champions League, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham