Manchester United are battling to sign Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, a move which is dragging into a full-on transfer saga.
We would say ‘gone are the days where United get deals quickly’ – but did these ever exist? Over the past decade, transfer moves have been torturous, and the deals which have been done, have not been pretty.
Many of the more memorable sagas are for all the wrong reasons, with Manchester United missing out on several top targets.
We can only hope Dutch international Frenkie de Jong does not join four of the five players on the list of United’s most agonising transfer sagas…
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.
Manchester United’s 2013 was defined by a headstrong pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, who Barcelona were determined not to sell.
United placed all their eggs in Cesc’s basket, ignoring other potential deals including his teammate Thiago Alcantara.
When it came to looking for alternatives, United ended up settling on Marouane Fellaini, a totally different player, after his cheaper release clause had expired.
There is a real fear that Manchester United’s 2022 De Jong pursuit will end in the same way, with the club so focused on signing a single player, losing important time and opportunity to land other top targets.
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 Inter Milan.
This one was a missed opportunity which stung, with Van Gaal’s United failing to challenge for the title during his spell in charge.
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, or sacrifice Anthony Martial in a swap deal.
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. Perisic has now signed for Tottenham.
Jadon Sancho (2020)
This was a painful one. United really wanted to sign Sancho in 2019, and after securing Champions League football in 2020, believed a deal could be done.
Unfortunately, United botched it, believing Borussia Dortmund were bluffing over a self-set deadline. They weren’t.
United spent the next month trying to change Dortmund’s mind, before signing Donny van de Beek, and four more players on deadline day, as panic set in.
Sancho eventually signed a year later for £73 million, just as the wheels began to fall off Solskjaer’s team. And by this point, the team’s needs had shifted; the money should have been spent on midfielders instead.