Old Trafford stadium in Manchester .

Manchester United let trio leave too early

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Old Trafford has always been a breeding ground for promising young talent, many of them having served under the tutelage of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. 

There are not too many tricks that the Scottish manager missed during his 26 successful years at the helm. 

Yet, despite having produced and nurtured youth talents such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and many others into world class players, the treble winner may have overlooked the potential of some of today's best players. 

Here are three players who started their club careers at the Theatre of Dreams and are now some of the most recognised faces in football. 


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Gerard Pique

Pique arrived at Old Trafford as a youth team player in 2004 from Barcelona and at the age of just 17, he made his first senior team appearance for the Red Devils. 

Most of the Spaniard's appearances were restricted to reserve team games during the first two seasons but after spending a fruitful campaign on loan in La Liga, the defender was handed more opportunities in the United first team, even scoring two goals in the Champions League. 

However, the defender then returned to the Camp Nou on a permanent basis in 2008, which proved to be the start of a highly successful career. 

Despite Pique's decent displays at Old Trafford, very few would have argued against Ferguson's decision to let the defender leave at that point. 

Spain v Georgia - International Friendly

Since the move, Pique has been a regular fixture in the Barca first team, winning three Champions League titles as well as six La Liga titles with the Catalan club. 

Had United held onto the classy centre-back, the defensive frailties that the club experienced during subsequent seasons, especially after Ferguson's departure, could have been addressed more easily. 

Looking at what Pique has achieved over the past eight years, United fans must be wondering what could have been if the World Cup winner had stayed in Manchester. 

Paul Pogba

Already considered one of the best midfielders in the world, Paul Pogba continues to grow as a player year after year. The 23-year-old is touted as a future Ballon d'Or winner and at such a young age, the midfielder has many years in which to further improve his game and develop into a great player. 

Having first appeared for the senior team at Old Trafford in 2011/2012, the French midfielder made just three appearances for the Red Devils during that season.

According to The Mirror, Ferguson claimed the midfielder had been disrespectful to the club, one of the main reasons for Pogba's departure.

After disagreements with the manager, the young midfielder moved to Serie A giants Juventus, where he has won four consecutive league titles and also helped the side reach the Champions League final in 2015, which they lost to Barcelona. 

France v Romania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016

The central midfielder possesses a unique combination of ball control, physical presence, dribbling ability, shooting and passing, making him a rare talent. 

Known as one of the most unconventional midfielders in Europe, the highly skillful player has the ability to turn a match on its head, and that has reportedly garnered interest from top clubs such as Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and even former club United. 

Having left Old Trafford on a free transfer, the midfielder is now valued at over  £60 million. 

Seen as one of Ferguson's greatest mistakes at United, Pogba's transfer to the Old Lady has turned out to be an immense bargain for the Italian side. 

If the Red Devils are to bring the midfielder back to Old Trafford, Juventus stand to make an incredible profit from the Frenchman's sale.

Danny Drinkwater

Yes, the midfielder who played a central role in Leicester City's first ever Premier League triumph last year, used to be a United player. 

Serving as the lynchpin at the heart of Leicester's midfield, the hard-working Drinkwater has been instrumental in the Foxes' success, linking up well with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante. 

Able to distribute the ball to the wings as well as long to running forwards, the English midfielder often pulls the strings in midfield, with Kante providing cover and protection. 

Unlike the aforementioned players on this list, Drinkwater was born in Manchester and joined the club academy at the age of 9. 

Having progressed through the ranks at the club, the midfielder appeared mainly for the youth and reserve teams until 2009, when he made his first senior team appearance against Hull City. 

England Training Session

After loan spells at several clubs, the central midfielder was eventually sold to Leicester in 2012, where Drinkwater steadily grew into a formidable midfielder.

At the time of the sale, the England international was just 22-years-old. Now 26, he is in the prime of his career and has several years of football still ahead of him. 

Drinkwater could arguably make it into United's current first team, ahead of fairly inconsistent players such as Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marouanne Fellaini, possibly partnering veteran Michael Carrick in the center of midfield. 

Not many could have predicted the meteoric rise that Pique, Pogba, and Drinkwater would enjoy following their departure from Manchester. But their current success begs the question; were United right to sell them, or did they do so prematurely?

The last two seasons have seen more young talent such as Frazier Campbell, Wilfred Zaha and Danny Welbeck leave the club at an early age. In a few year's time, it'll be clear whether the club have repeated their previous mistakes. 

Were United wrong to sell any of these three players? Have your say in the comments. 

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Manchester United
Gerard Pique
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