Lucas Moura has revealed how close he came to signing for Manchester United.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, 23, snubbed Sir Alex Ferguson as a 19-year-old in favour of a move to the French capital.
And Manchester United can blame former PSG sporting director Leonardo for their failed attempt to sign the Brazilian.
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Lucas will take on United’s rivals, Manchester City, in the Champions League quarter-final but the Citizens could have been Lucas’ main rivals had things turned out differently.
Instead, the winger opted for PSG and joined from Sao Paulo in a £44.3 million deal four years ago.
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Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: “I was very close to joining Manchester United. It nearly happened but, at the last minute, Leonardo called me and spoke to me and my parents.
“It was a very difficult moment because suddenly I had to make a choice when I thought I was joining Manchester United. I thought about it a lot; I talked about it with my family and I made my choice. Football is like that. You have to choose a team.”
PSG's Brazilian influence
What helped sway Lucas to the Parc des Princes was PSG’s heavy Brazilian squad. Currently, Thiago Silva, Maxwell, Marquinhos, David Luiz and Thiago Motta (Brazil-born but an Italy international) are all the club.
But Leonardo, who also played for Brazilian club Sao Paulo, was the biggest influence.
“[The Brazilian players] also helped me make my choice,” the trickster added. “We forged great friendships and every one of us, each of the Brazilians, we would do anything to help each other. We are like brothers and that really helped me … But Leonardo was the key.”
When you add all of the pieces up, Manchester United didn’t really have much chance of acquiring Lucas when PSG came calling. His favourite player, Zinedine Zidane, played in France, while fellow idols Rai and Ronaldinho both appeared for Les Parisiens.
It’s a decision that he probably doesn’t regret - Lucas has won four French titles and is part of a super-rich team with ambitions of joining Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich among Europe’s elite.
United, meanwhile, have floundered since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, their status falling as fast as Lucas’s legs can move.
Semi-finals are the minimum expectation
Quite remarkably, PSG have never gone beyond the Champions League quarter-finals.
But with incredibly wealthy Middle Eastern owners comes high expectations, and Lucas knows PSG must deliver in the European competition.
“It’s the most important match of the season,” he added. “We have made it through to the quarter-finals three times previously so we must go further to show we are progressing. So far we have done everything to achieve that and I believe we can go on and achieve even more; achieve our dreams.”
Who will progress to the Champions League semi-finals - Manchester City or PSG? Have your say in the comments section below!
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