Kroos, Bale, Bonucci & Man Utd XI who have rejected transfers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit

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United have been in the mix for plenty of stars over the last five years, but so often they have been left empty-handed

On Wednesday, Manchester United again face one of their most successful acquisitions of the Sir Alex Ferguson era when they take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the Champions League in Turin.

But besides being a symbol of United for six years, the Portuguese star has also been one of many players to have foregone the opportunity to sign on at Old Trafford since Sir Alex retired in 2013.

For much of the last five years it has felt like some players have used United as a trading tool, while others simply decided they did not like the sound of being a part of the rebuilding project in M16.

Below, Goal looks at a potential starting XI of players that United couldn’t get over the line in the years post-Ferguson...

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    #1 Keylor Navas

    Keylor Navas wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of signing for Manchester United as he sat in an airport waiting room on deadline day in August 2015, but he looked set to be the makeweight in David de Gea’s move to Real Madrid anyway.

    “I never wanted to leave Real Madrid. My agent told me to be alert to my phone. We had to go to Barajas airport, although I never actually got on the plane,” he explained later.

    “I thought that if God wanted me to leave Madrid, it would be for the best, but he didn’t want me to and I’m still here.”

    We all know what happened next: a faulty fax machine, a public spat between the two clubs as to why the swap deal had fallen through, a new contract for De Gea, and two Player of the Year awards in three season since.
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    #2 Sokratis Papastathopoulos

    The Greek defender’s father claimed after a summer move which saw Sokratis swap Borussia Dortmund for Arsenal that United had also made a play for his son.

    “There was interest from United but he had to wait until July for them,” Charalambos Papastathopoulos informed Radio 24/7 in his homeland. 

    “United have a very good relationship with Dortmund, the clubs talked, but Sokratis chose to go to Arsenal.”

    And with that, the 30-year-old was a Gooner.
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    #3 Sergio Ramos

    Like Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos has become well known in the north-west of England for his annual flirting with Manchester United in order to get a better pay deal out of Real Madrid.

    “At one point I did think about making a change, but at the end of the day my priority has always been Real Madrid and I thought about a change for other reasons,” Ramos told reporters about his not-quite-near-misses with United.

    The Reds have been keen on adding him to their side at various points but eventually became wise to the Spain international’s see-through tactics and have steered clear of even getting involved over recent summers.
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    #4 Leonardo Bonucci

    One player United’s board did apparently approach is Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci, whom they face once more on Wednesday.

    Having previously been a 2016 target for Manchester City, Bonucci admitted recently that United had also been interested when he returned to Juve from AC Milan last summer.

    “Basically, there have been some possibilities both with Manchester City and with Manchester United,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

    “This year, when I was told there was a possibility to go back home, to come back to Juventus, I just stopped listening to any other offers and I decided to come back here.”

    With that, United were left targeting Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire, Jerome Boateng, Raphael Varane, Diego Godin and others as centre-back signings and signed exactly no one.
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    #5 Willian

    “I don't know if there was any official bid, but some things have happened,” Willian said last season when asked about the possibility of rejoining his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.

    “Also, everything comes out on the internet, too. But Mourinho talks to my agent all the time, he says ‘bring him, bring him’. [Mourinho] has never called me, but he always sends me text messages.”

    The texts got the United boss nowhere, though, with the Brazilian wide man now claiming to be as happy as ever under Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge.
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    #6 Toni Kroos

    Kroos is another Real Madrid star whose future has often been linked with Manchester United.

    The closest United arguably came was in 2014 when the midfielder had resolved to leave Bayern Munich and had come to an agreement with David Moyes.

    “Toni Kroos was agreed to come in the summer,” Moyes later confirmed. “I had agreed it with Toni himself and his agent. It was done."

    But after the Scot was unceremoniously sacked and the announcement was made that Louis van Gaal would be United’s next manager, the move for Kroos quickly went south.

    With Van Gaal ready to pull the plug, Kroos also was against the idea of being reunited with his former Bayern boss and the German went to Madrid instead.
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    #7 Cesc Fabregas

    Here’s David Moyes again!

    “Cesc Fabregas, whom I spoke to on the phone several times, was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team,” the former Everton boss told BBC Radio Five Live.

    “I remember him saying to me ‘If I don’t start the first game at Barcelona, then I’ll definitely be looking to join you.' He started the first game at Barcelona.”

    And that was the end of Moyes’ summer-long pursuit of the now-Chelsea midfielder, leaving United scrambling around for other potential additions in the engine room.

    The answer? Marouane Fellaini, now in his sixth season at Old Trafford.

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    #8 Ivan Perisic

    “My club is doing 75 per cent of what I initially asked very well. I don’t think I am in a position of moaning, crying, contesting or saying I am not happy,” said Jose Mourinho as the transfer deadline approached in the summer of 2017.

    The other 25%, of course, was Ivan Perisic, for whom they were unwilling to meet Inter’s £50 million valuation. And the Croatian wasn’t about to rock the boat at San Siro to make it happen.

    By the following summer, with Perisic helping his national team to a World Cup final, Mourinho was far more willing to complain about the failed transfer when acting as a pundit for RT.

    “Perisic, he went from Croatia to Dortmund to Wolfsburg to Inter. I don’t know why he didn’t come to Manchester when I wanted him,” said the frustrated United boss.
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    #9 Antoine Griezmann

    United looked nailed on to add Antoine Griezmann to their squad in the summer of 2017 as the Frenchman seriously considered leaving Atletico Madrid.

    But the Reds were thwarted when Griezmann’s heart strings were tugged following the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to uphold Atleti’s transfer ban for breaching rules related to the signing of minors, effectively stopping them from seeking a replacement for the attacker.

    Griezmann quickly pledged his future to Atleti, announcing on Twitter: “Now more than ever! #Atleti #AllTogether."
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    #10 Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo’s spell at Real Madrid was littered with annual attempts to improve his financial standing at the Bernabeu by toying with a return to United.

    But Sir Alex Ferguson had been confident the Portuguese would return in 2013, according to Patrice Evra.

    “He even told me '99%, Cristiano Ronaldo will come,’” Evra later explained. “I was like, ‘Wow, we are ready to bounce back and to even win the Champions League again.’”

    Alas, Ferguson retired that summer and was replaced by Moyes, who couldn’t get a deal over the line.

    “It has been well documented that we wanted Fabregas, Bale and Ronaldo,” said Moyes. “There was talk of Ronaldo when I first arrived.”
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    #11 Gareth Bale

    “I spoke to Gareth Bale a couple of times,” David Moyes told BBC Radio Five Live of his 2013 summer pursuit of the Tottenham winger.

    “He had his heart set on going to Real Madrid, we tried to change it. We tried to convince him but we couldn’t do so. We offered more money to Tottenham at that time.”

    But, as with so many other potential deals, Moyes and Ed Woodward were unable to get the deal done and Bale would become part of the ‘BBC’ front line which would win four Champions League titles in the last five years at th Bernabeu.

    United, meanwhile, have been left with relative mediocrity and a whole lot of ‘nearly’ transfers.