Five players Manchester United had very lucky escapes on

Manchester United’s recruitment compared to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool has been nothing short than diabolical.

It’s very rare to see a player that either Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp sign not become an asset in their teams, but for the Red Devils, its very rare for a transfer to be deemed a success.

There has been some big-money flops at Old Trafford in recent years, but there have also been some lucky escapes which has prevented that flop list growing ever larger.

Manchester United are inevitably linked with a wealth of players on a day-to-day basis, but here we take a look at five deals that the Reds were right to pass up on…

Sean Longstaff

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Manchester United were linked with a move for the Newcastle-born midfielder in the summer of 2019 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had already signed homegrown players Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James.

The Norwegian made Harry Maguire his third British signing of the summer transfer window, but the Reds baulked at the Magpies’ £50m asking price for Longstaff.

At the time of United’s interest in the midfielder, Longstaff had only played nine Premier League games for the Toon Army.

Since United’s interest, the 24-year-old’s career has nosedived and his contract at St James’ Park expires at the end of June.

If Manchester United would have baulked to Newcastle’s crazy demands then Erik ten Hag would have had another conundrum to attend to when taking the reins this summer.

Nicolas Pepe

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According to the Times, Solskjaer was interested in bringing the Ivorian to Old Trafford in the summer of 2019.

The winger finished the 2018/19 campaign for Lille with 22 goals and 11 assists from 38 Ligue 1 matches and that blistering form prompted interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

It was Arsenal who signed the African for a club-record £72m. Into his third season in English football, the 26-year-old’s stats don’t look that bad on paper.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Pepe has 27 goals and 20 assists from 109 matches for the north London side, but he has only made five Premier League starts for the Gunners this season.

With Mikel Arteta favouring Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe in the attacking positions, it’s hard to see how Pepe can turn around his fortunes while the Spaniard is in charge.

With Arsenal likely to seek reinforcements in the summer, Pepe could head out on loan.

Nicolas Gaitan

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The Argentinian was constantly linked with a move to the Theatre of Dreams during the attacking midfielder’s six-year stay at Benfica.

The creative left-footer had established himself as one of the best playmakers across Europe while with the Lisbon giants, but a move to the twenty-times champions never came to fruition, a little like Wesley Sneijder.

From 253 matches for the Portuguese giants, Gaitan scored 41 goals and provided 89 assists. He was averaging a direct goalscoring contribution in every other Benfica game when his time at the Estadio da Luz came to an end.

Gaitan got his big-money move in the summer of 2016, but it wasn’t with Manchester United, he joined Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid for £19.7m.

Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

With only four goals and five assists from 49 matches for Los Colchoneros, Gaitan left the Spanish capital for the China Super League in February 2018.

Since then, Gaitan has played in the MLS, France and Uruguay before moving back to Portugal in January with Pacos Ferreira.

When Gaitan signed for Atletico, it looks like the 19-time Argentinian international was already passed his prime and on a downward trajectory.

Jack Rodwell

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Yet another talented prospect to come through the Everton Academy, Rodwell scored against Manchester United in February 2010, in what was his second appearance against the Red Devils to round off a 3-1 win for David Moyes’ Toffees at Goodison Park.

The teenager was linked with a move to Old Trafford that summer but he instead signed a new contract with the blue half of Merseyside.

Despite signing a new five-year deal, Rodwell was signed by Manchester City in August 2012 for £12m.

But at the time when Rodwell was meant to kick on and fulfil his burgeoning potential both domestically and on the international stage, the midfielder began to struggle with injuries and failed to establish himself at a club.

The 31-year-old is currently playing in Australia and will no doubt look back on his career with a number of regrets.

James Rodriguez

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The Colombian superstar had been on Manchester United’s radar since his sensational World Cup in 2014.

Prior to reuniting with Carlo Ancelotti for a third time after joining Everton for £12m in September 2020, the playmaker was linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Real Madrid signed the South American from Monaco for £71m after he won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup with six goals in five matches.

Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The 30-year-old won nine trophies during his time in the Spanish capital, including back-to-back Champions League triumphs.

But after three years at Madrid, Rodriguez joined German giants Bayern Munich on a two-year loan, but the Bavarians didn’t take up the option of signing the attacking midfielder on a permanent deal.

Upon returning to Los Blancos, it was clear that Rodriguez didn’t have a way back under Zinedine Zidane and he decided to come to the Premier League with the Toffees.

Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

But following Ancelotti’s return to Real Madrid last summer, Rodriguez never featured for the blue half of Merseyside again.

In September, Rodriguez signed for Qatar Stars League side Al-Rayyan, but he has been linked with a move to David Beckham’s Inter Miami.

There is no denying Rodriguez’s talent, but a move to Manchester United could have played out in similar fashion to the likes of Angel di Maria, Alexis Sanchez or that of his compatriot’s Radamel Falcao.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.