Over the years there have been several players who have slipped through United’s grasp and experienced varying levels of success elsewhere. Gazza, Alan Shearer, Michael Essien, Arjen Robben, Ronaldinho were all set to sign with United, before heading elsewhere.
While United have experienced major success over the years regardless of not getting these players, there is that lingering feeling of how good United could have been with a Ronaldinho or a Ronaldo in their prime. Which brings us to another player that was heavily linked to United in the past few years.
United have been linked with a number of players this summer in a bid to get that creative midfielder the side desperately needs. Wesley Sneidjer, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri have all been linked with moves to Old Trafford this summer – but what about Franck Ribery? The Frenchman was heavily linked with a move to United in 2009 following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, but ended up staying in Germany with Bayern Munich and United signed Antonio Valencia instead.
Obviously this is all hypothetical, but how good could United have been if they had signed Ribery in 2009? Would Ribery have stepped into Ronaldo’s shadow comfortably and formed a (literally) frightening partnership with Wayne Rooney? If United had signed Ribery instead of Valencia, would they be any better than they are now?
You could say United made the right choice by not signing Ribery. Valencia has blossomed into a star at Old Trafford, with his pace, power and crossing on the wing and has proved to be a valuable asset. Valencia is more of a team-first player that won’t cause a lot of fuss if he is not the centre of attention, and if you look at it, was a bargain at £16 million (especially when you compare the £20 million Liverpool spent on Jordan Henderson).
Ribery would have cost at least twice as much as Valencia and although he may be able to produce that bit of magic or that spark that United have sometimes lacked since they lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009. But you can imagine that if Ribery wasn’t playing well, was dropped or wasn’t the centre of attention, his attitude could have been a problem, as it was at Bayern last season when the Frenchman was criticised by boss Louis Van Gaal.
Two years ago, Ribery was regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world, but seems to have regressed in the last few years. Constant injuries, poor form, involvement in a prostitution scandal and a sub-par World Cup for France has dented his stock, and with all the transfer speculation focused on the likes of Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Javier Pastore and Wesley Sneidjer this summer, Ribery, just like Kaka, seems to be a bit of an afterthought at the moment.
So if United fail to land the likes of Modric, Sneidjer or Nasri this summer, would Ribery be a decent alternative? He’s got the ability and he’s only a year older than Sneidjer at 28, and a change of scenery and a world-class manager in Sir Alex could do him good.
But the main problem with Ribery is the price. The Frenchman is contracted to Bayern until 2015 and wouldn’t come cheap at all, as Bayern would probably want a fee upwards of £30/35 million, as well as the high wages that Ribery would command.
That’s why it should be a seen as a blessing that United did not sign Ribery two years ago and it’s why they shouldn’t sign him this summer.
What do you think – would Ribery be a good addition to United? Are you glad United signed Valencia instead of Ribery two years ago?
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