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13th Aug 2017

Reason why Manchester United didn’t sign Luka Modric has been revealed

He would've been the perfect signing for the club

Robert Redmond

He would have been the perfect signing for them.

In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final few years as Manchester United manager, it was obvious the club needed a central midfielder to replace Paul Scholes, and Luka Modric would have been a perfect fit.

Between 2007 and when he retired in 2013, the only central midfielder Ferguson signed was Anderson. Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell joined, but they were more traditional number 10s, and not long-term replacements for Scholes.

United managed to win the Champions League and a couple of Premier League titles in that period, but it was obvious reinforcement was needed in the heart of the pitch. However, Ferguson was such a genius that his team beat Arsenal 8-2 with Anderson and Tom Cleverly in midfield, and the replacement for Scholes never arrived.

Modric was the obvious successor to Scholes. The Croatian was playing for Tottenham Hotspur and appeared to be a perfect fit for United. Modric could win the ball, was calm in possession and made others around him play better – an excellent passer capable of scoring stunning long-range goals on occasion. He rarely lost the ball, and would have instantly improved every team in the Premier League.

However, Modric never arrived at United, despite Ferguson’s interest in signing the player. The Croatian joined Real Madrid from Spurs in 2012 for £30m, and has become one of their most important players, winning three European Cups and the Spanish league.

A move to United was on the cards the previous summer, but Ferguson decided against it because of the trouble dealing with Daniel Levy, Tottenham’s chairman. The Scot remarked that his hip surgery was more enjoyable than negotiating with Levy.

According to Daniel Taylor, writing in The Observer:

“Ferguson was tipped off that the Croat would be keen on a move to Manchester to fill the void left by Paul Scholes’s retirement. In ordinary circumstances, Modric would have been the ideal fit. These, however, were not ordinary circumstances. Ferguson had never forgotten what it was like dealing with Levy in the protracted transfer saga he referred to as ‘the Dimitar Berbatov carry-on’ and when he raised the matter with David Gill, United’s chief executive, the two men agreed they didn’t have the stomach to go though the same again. As good as Modric was, they simply couldn’t countenance another negotiation involving the Spurs chairman.”

Levy is renowned for being a tough negotiator, which makes Spurs’ signing of Moussa Sissoko for £30m last summer even more astonishing. Ferguson was hardly a pushover himself, but the experience of Berbatov’s transfer to United in 2o08 evidently turned him off trying to sign another Spurs player, regardless of how good they were.