Manchester United came close to pulling off a stunning deal for Brazil international Lucas Moura, but were beaten to the winger’s signature by Paris Saint-Germain.
This is according to the player’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, who has confirmed that Gustavo Vieira was in Manchester on behalf of Sao Paulo to complete the deal in 2012.
However, a quick call to former Brazil international Leonardo - who was working as PSG’s sporting director at the time - revealed that the current French champions were keen to strike an agreement with the lightning-quick South American at the eleventh hour.
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Ribeiro: Lucas almost joined Man United
“Manchester would pay [£22 million],” Ribeiro told Yahoo Brasil. “Gustavo Vieira was already in Manchester to finish the operation. Then, I called the Leonardo (then sporting director of PSG), who was interested. I told Gustavo [to leave] Manchester and go find me in Paris. We closed for [£33 million].”
Quite why Manchester United were not prepared to up their bid is unclear, although the most likely explanation is that Sir Alex Ferguson - the Red Devils’ manager at the time - wasn’t entirely convinced that Lucas would be a success in Europe.
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And consistency does appear to be a problem for the 22-year-old, who has been capped by the Brazilian national team on 31 occasions, scoring four goals in the process.
Lucas improving all the time
There’s little doubt he possesses all the tools to establish himself as one of world football’s best wingers - he’s blessed with rapid pace and is superb in one-on-one situations - but people are still waiting for Lucas to make a telling impact in the biggest matches for both club and country.
He has, however, been performing well in Ligue 1 of late and is rated by WhoScored as the third best-performing player of the 2014-15 campaign, having scored seven goals and provided three assists.
Big few months coming up for Lucas
Lucas will have plenty of opportunities to make a big impression over the forthcoming weeks, provided he has fully recovered from a right hip muscle injury which ruled him out of the two-legged Champions League tie against Chelsea.
PSG face Barcelona in the quarter-finals on Europe’s elite cup competition next month, while Brazil coach Dunga is expected to include the winger in his final squad for the Copa America in Chile this summer.
Swap deal for Di Maria?
With PSG reportedly keen to sign Angel di Maria this summer, perhaps Manchester United might consider asking about the idea of a swap deal involving Lucas, who could become a huge star in the Premier League.
Manchester United fans: would you swap Angel di Maria for Lucas Moura this summer? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!