Manchester United may have spent over £150 million this summer to right the wrongs endured during last season’s disastrous campaign, but it’s a transfer that happened seven years ago which club favourite Rene Meulensteen focused on during a Soccerex event in Manchester.
According to the Daily Express Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man suggested that the sale of Giuseppe Rossi, who left Old Trafford to move to Villarreal in 2007, was a big mistake, and made it clear that had he been in charge it would have never been allowed to happen.
The Italian forward has since gone on to be a hit both in Spain and more recently in his home nation with Fiorentina, leaving United to rue another gem that they let slip through their net. Though injury-prone, Rossi has an impressive strike rate and, considering the Red Devils allowed him to leave the club for a poultry £6 million, the powers that be may echo Meulensteen’s sentiments.
The Dutch coach, who departed United himself in 2013 for Anzhi Makhachkala, revealed that he believed Rossi would have evolved into a top Premier League talent had he been given a proper chance to find his feet.
At the time United had Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney scoring the bulk of the goals for them, but even so Rossi’s departure may have been premature given how prolific he’s gone on to be.
“[What do I remember of Rossi?] Talent. I've always liked him. He's a professional player.
"Sometimes big clubs must make painful choices but United paid dearly [for allowing him to leave].
"Personally, I would never have let him go because you could see that he was going to be a major star in the Premier League.
"He would have been the equivalent of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Juan Mata, players who play in the middle of the lines.
"Rossi would have been perfect in that position."
Rossi is currently out for five months having undergone surgery on his knee, but when he returns is expected to lead Fiorentina’s charge to challenge for the Serie A title.
Muelensteen’s comments take on a heightened significance in the wake of youngster Davide Petrucci’s exit, which was confirmed by United yesterday. The 22-year-old, similarly to Rossi, was sent out on loan in order to aid his development in England, but failed to make enough of an impact to earn a first-team spot.
In a bid to get regular football he’s decided to make a move to Romanian outfit CFR Cluj, which some now concerned that United may have let another player of great promise slip through their fingers.
Perhaps the most famous case of the club doing so is that of Paul Pogba, who is now rated at around £60 million. Since joining Juventus the France international, who was denied game-time by Sir Alex, has gone from strength to strength, and is now rated as one of the most talented youngsters in world football.