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Replacing a player like Paul Scholes was never going to be easy but there was one player Sir Alex Ferguson had in mind.
An incredible goalscorer who scored 155 goals for United from midfield, Scholes was technically outstanding and capable of running a game on his own by dictating the pace and tempo.
He retired in May 2011 after lifting the Premier League title but reversed his decision by the time January 2012 and the FA Cup third round Manchester derby clash arrived, with United in the midst of a big injury crisis.
The former England man eventually called it a day for real in 2013 and it's emerged that Ferguson wanted Ilkay Gundogan, then of Borussia Dortmund, to fill the void left by Scholes.
Former first-team coach Rene Meulensteen revealed to the Evening Standard that the Red Devils were scouting the German and his teammate Marco Reus.
If Fergie had carried on then we would have had the same squad. We would have added some more quality, probably some more energy.
"We were looking at Gundogan from Dortmund and Reus at that time. We were looking at Gundogan - someone similar (to Scholes), who could keep ticking the ball over, thinks quick and has tempo."
Ferguson, like Scholes, would retire after his 13th and final Premier League title in 2013. David Moyes came in and signed Marouane Fellaini from Everton in a £27 million move on Deadline Day after missing out on Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara.
Even after Moyes' disastrous spell, you'd have to argue Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have also struggled to properly replace the Ginger Prince despite spending big dollar.
Gundogan, meanwhile, moved to the blue half of Manchester as Pep Guardiola's first signing at City. While he's not always a regular every week, he was very important in the record-breaking title win last season.
In the 1-0 win over Chelsea in March, he completed 174 passes - which is the most a single player has achieved in a Premier League game.
Ilkay Gundogan's 174 passes today was also a Premier League record for most successful passes in one game by one player. Congratulations, Ilkay!- City Watch (@City_Watch) March 4, 2018
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