Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal has recalled how he attempted to sign ex-Liverpool star Sadio Mane whilst at Manchester United.
The Senegalese side would normally be spearheaded by Bayern Munich forward Mane. However, the 30-year-old was officially ruled out of the tournament last week following an injury.
Instead, Watford star Ismaila Sarr and Sheffield United key man Iliman Ndiaye will be amongst the players hoping to lead from the front in the World Cup, with Kalidou Koulibaly marshalling the defence and Edouard Mendy set to play in goal.
But they will no doubt miss Mane, the nation's all-time top goalscorer.
He is in his first season at Bayern Munich, having completed a move from Liverpool, where he spent six years, in the summer.
Had things gone differently, though, the 30-year-old might have been turning out for the Reds' biggest rivals instead.
Louis van Gaal reveals unsuccessful Mane bid
When he was manager of Man Utd between 2014 and 2016, Van Gaal made a number of high-profile transfers as he looked to rebuild the club's ageing squad.
He brought in the likes of Angel Di Maria, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Radamel Falcao, but none of those players achieved success at Old Trafford.
However, one player he attempted to bring in, but wasn't able to, was none other than Mane.
Speaking before the Senegal clash, which takes place on Monday, Van Gaal recalled (quotes via Daily Mirror): "I wanted him when I was the manager at Man Utd.
"I am a fan of Mane. He can break open a match, and I would say Senegal will really miss him."
He explained: "I have to say, I was really close to going to Manchester United. I had the contract there, I had it all agreed.
"It was all ready. But instead, I thought, 'No, I want to go to Liverpool'. I was convinced to go with Klopp's project."
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