Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Manchester United almost signed one of the world’s elite stars in Luka Modric – but passed up that chance with the club already having a deal in place to a divisive midfielder instead.
Modric was in the process of moving away from Tottenham back in summer 2012. He enjoyed four outstanding years in north London and was at the time viewed as one of the world’s premier midfielders. However, his reputation has gone up several notches since moving to Real. And it is there where he has spent the last decade.
In that time, he has clocked up 454 appearances for Los Blancos. Indeed, now into his 11th season at the Bernabeu, Modric has won everything there is to be won. And with five Champions Leagues to his name, he has also won a staggering 161 caps for his country, Croatia.
Now 37, he shows no signs of slowing down. Almost better than ever, he recently indictaed a willingness to spend a 12th season with Real
Links to United have followed over the years for Modric,
However, his career could have taken him on a very different path had Ferdinand had his way.
Reflecting on that miss and why they passed up the chance, Ferdinand claims the club instead chose to sign another star instead.
But rather than enjoy enormous success as Modric could have done, Shinji Kagawa would spend just two seasons at the club before returning to Borussia Dortmund.
Ferdinand on how Man Utd could have signed Luka Modric
“Any player that was available or was coming up I used to think that I could somehow get into them.
“Even Thiago Alcantara at Liverpool. I spoke to him before he left Barcelona to go to Bayern Munich and that almost happened but we signed [Marouane] Fellaini instead.
“But Modric, I remember speaking to him, I said, ‘Are you leaving [Tottenham]?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I think I’m going to go’ but he wasn’t sure at the time where.
“I said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to come to United, man’. And he said, ‘Yeah, listen, I want to be the first Croatian to play for Man United. I want to be that guy, can we make it happen?’
“But it didn’t happen. I spoke to David Gill and the manager [Sir Alex] at the time had already agreed with Shinji Kagawa I think it was – I think that was the year, I’m sure it was.
“Or they already had irons in the fire with another player and they did that deal and then Modric went to Madrid and the rest is history.
“But I never imaged he’d go on to do what he’s done. What a player!”
Shinji Kagawa never really settled at Man Utd
A £17m deal for Kagawa was sealed in summer 2012, with United paying an initial £12m. That deal would eventually hit £17m with add-ons, though the player never really settled at Old Trafford.
He played 57 times for the club in between spells at Borussia Dortmund. And while he was part of the last United side to win the title in 2013, he would return to BVB in 2014 for just £6.5m.
For United though with Modric, it was very much a case of the one that got away.