From Chelsea's Essien To Spurs' Gazza: 5 Players I'd Have Loved To See Play For Manchester United
Ronaldinho is a true great, on his day he was up there with the very best. His unbelievable skill and quick feet would have lit up Old Trafford for at least a couple of years. Manchester United were outbid by Barcelona for him back in 2003, we later went on to buy Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo though, which were obviously better long term investments. €30 million for the Brazilian could have been considered a risk from Barcelona at the time but he went onto great things at the Nou Camp, winning FIFA World Player Of The Year n 2004 and who can forget his double against Real Madrid, which earned him a standing ovation from the Madrid fans. At the time he could have slotted in behind Ruud Van Nistelrooy at Old Trafford in a free role which would have seen him tear the Premier League apart.
Some of my first footballing memories were of Euro 96 and 'that goal' from Gazza against the Scots. During that time he was on the books at Rangers after playing for Newcastle, Spurs and Lazio, but I often wonder what the world would be like if Gascoigne had signed for United instead of Spurs at the end of the 87/88 season. He was a footballer who had all the talent and his enthusiasm and hyperactive nature was present both on and off the field. Who knows how his career would have gone if had signed for Man United, he may still have had injury problems, and he may still be in the saddening situation that he is now but I guess football fans will never know.
I haven't really got anything against Michael Owen apart from his wooden media trained punditry skills on MOTD, but if you had to choose between an ageing Owen or an ageing Raul, you would pick the Spaniard every time. Signing Raul was a possibility for the Red Devils when his contract ran out at Madrid in 2010. He was an icon at Madrid and it would have been great to see him at Old Trafford, even in his twilight years. He really could finish from anywhere on his day and some of his Champions League goals were unreal.
It was painful seeing the Ghanaian powerhouse play for Chelsea when we came so close to signing him. We were linked with him when he was at Lyon and Bastia, but due to rumours of a failed work permit it never materialized, and when it came to coming to England at the time we perhaps couldn't compete with Chelsea's £24 million bid. We lost Roy Keane in the 2005 season and Essien could have grabbed the bull by the horns if he had entered the fray at Old Trafford at that time. We severely lacked bite and strength in the middle of the park for a few years and Essien would have been a perfect fit, instead we were forced to watch him lift trophies at Stamford Bridge.
I have gone with Batistuta over Alan Shearer simply because I don't particularly like Alan Shearer. Both would have accomplished great things at Old Trafford, but I would have much rather of seen the Argentinean legend in a United over the sleep inducing Geordie. Manchester United were linked with him every month during his time at Fiorentina and Fergie was a huge admirer. Batigol was a goal machine in Italy and I loved watching him on Sundays when Serie A was broadcasted in England. I imagine he would of had a similar impact to that of Van Nistelrooy at Old Trafford, but would have been more of a cult hero than the Dutchman was in the Premier League.