As Manchester United head into the transfer window, a saga is expected over the future of Jadon Sancho.

United are linked with dozens of players each year, some more strongly than others. We have made some poor signings, the likes of Angel di Maria and Alexis Sanchez.

Just as notable on occasions are the players we don’t sign and what ‘might have been’.

Here is a look at United’s biggest near misses of the past decade…

Netherlands' midfielder Wesley Sneijder
(PEDRO UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Wesley Sneijder

It is hard to top this one. Back in 2010, Sneijder was coming off a season where he won the Champions League with Inter Milan, and led Holland to the World Cup final, scoring five goals along the way.

It was a year later that United reportedly made their move, trying to tempt Sneijder to the Premier League.It had appeared the Dutchman was interested (he later told The Telegraph a move was ‘close’, with Inter falling apart after Jose Mourinho’s exit.

But the Italian club refused to sell for anything less than a world record fee and United chose not to pay up.

United were not bold enough, and it was a missed opportunity despite the club going on to win two of the next three league titles.

(Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

Thiago Alcantara

Missing out on Thiago was a bigger hammer blow than losing out on Sneijder.

Thiago was Barcelona’s gem, a natural replacement for Andres Iniesta and Xavi, who was available in 2013 thanks to a release clause in his contract.

At a time when United needed fresh faces, Thiago was a no-brainer, but United didn’t get the deal done.

David Moyes bizarrely figured that Thiago was not needed, and it was a decision which deservedly probably cost him his job.

Thiago has gone on to play more than 220 games for Bayern, winning six Bundesliga titles. He was everything Manchester United needed, and he is still only 29.

(Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)

Arturo Vidal

This one was a real saga of Wesley Sneijder proportions. Vidal was the snappy, goalscoring midfielder United lacked, and a leader who seemed cut out for the Premier League.


Newly appointed boss Louis van Gaal was not so convinced, and chose not to pursue a move.

He chose to sign an ageing Bastian Schweinsteiger a year later, a move which did not work out at all.Vidal eventually joined Bayern, and he is now at Barcelona.

This one was a missed opportunity which stung, with Van Gaal’s United failing to challenge for the title during his spell in charge.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Virgil van Dijk

Jose Mourinho’s spell at Manchester United was undone by two transfer failings, one of which was not signing enough centre-backs.

The Times reported last year how Ed Woodward enquired with Southampton in December 2017 over a move for Virgil van Dijk, only to be told a deal had already been done to sell him to Liverpool.

The damage was double-edged; United imploded under Mourinho with trouble at centre-back a key reason.

Liverpool meanwhile went onto win the Champions League with Van Dijk and a Premier League title. You don’t get more costly from United’s perspective than that.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Ivan Perisic

Inter Milan played villain once again as they did over Wesley Sneijder, the Ivan Perisic saga was the first crack in Jose Mourinho’s spell at Old Trafford.

Up until this point Mourinho had landed his top transfer targets, and wanted a top winger to supply new striker Romelu Lukaku.

He honed in on Perisic, but the board were unwilling to pay the £65 million asking price.

The way he scored in the World Cup final a year later suggested he was worth it.

Mourinho cut a frustrated figure ever since, and didn’t get the best out of Lukaku. United fans are still waiting for a top quality winger to arrive at the club.

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