Manchester United were interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi last season and scouted the player, according to the Red Devils’ former coach Phil Neville.
Neville was speaking after Matuidi’s eye-catching display for PSG against Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday night, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The current BBC pundit told BBC 5 live sport that he personally went to France in order to scout the 27-year-old, but a move failed to materialise after the player signed a new contract with the Ligue 1 champions last February.
Neville: Man United wanted to sign Matuidi
"We wanted to sign him,” Neville said. “We'd heard his contract was running out and we were really interested in him. Then he signed a contact with Paris St Germain, which was something we weren't happy with.
“We were looking at it at Man Utd last year to inject a little bit of energy. He runs from box to box and he carried the team forward simply through his energy on that left channel."
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Matuidi a key player for club and country
Matuidi has become a key player for PSG since arriving at the Parc des Princes from Saint-Etienne in 2011. He is also a regular fixture in the France national team, having made 32 appearances since his debut in 2010.
That former United boss David Moyes wanted a new central midfielder last season was no secret; plenty of big-name players were linked with summer moves to Old Trafford before the former Everton boss was unceremoniously sacked by the Red Devils last April.
Herrera failed to impress Van Gaal
Moyes’ replacement Louis van Gaal did, however, give the green light for Manchester United to complete a deal for Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera - a player his predecessor had put much of the ground work in to sign during his 10-month reign at Old Trafford.
Herrera, though, has struggled to impress Van Gaal this season and has subsequently made just a handful of starts for the Premier League giants.
Matuidi may have been a better signing than Herrera
Perhaps Matuidi would have been a more effective signing that Herrera, but the former Athletic Bilbao midfielder will be looking to kick-start his Manchester United career after scoring against Preston North End in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night.
Matuidi is arguably the more dynamic and physical of the two central midfielders; he was possibly PSG’s stand-out player against Chelsea.
Superb at retaining possession, a very competent passer and tackler with a knack of always being in the right place at the right time from a defensive perspective, Matuidi would have been a wonderful addition to Manchester United’s squad.
Would Matuidi have been a better signing than Herrera? Have your say in the comments below.