13 players who rejected Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson retired - Where are they now?


It’s now fair to say that the summer of 2013 was a turning point in Manchester United’s history.

Losing Sir Alex Ferguson was always likely to be a devastating blow for the club, but few would have expected the Red Devils to fall quite so far over the next six years.

During that time, United have employed four different coaches - David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - and it probably won’t be much longer before four becomes five.

The Premier League giants have endured a dismal start to the 2019/20 campaign and there’s even talk - from pundits and fans - that they might be dragged into a relegation dogfight this season.

That United are in their current predicament despite spending hundreds of millions on players during the post-Ferguson era makes it all the more embarrassing.

But over the past six years there have been some high-profile names who, for various reasons, have also rejected a move to Old Trafford.

Let’s see what these players are up to now…

Cesc Fabregas

David Moyes expected Fabregas to join United during his first (and only) summer transfer window but the Spanish midfielder rejected the offer in order to fight for his place at Barcelona.

A year later and the former Arsenal midfielder had signed for Chelsea, where he went on to win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Not bad, eh?

The 32-year-old left Chelsea for AS Monaco back in January and is still there now.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League

Toni Kroos

"Toni Kroos had agreed to come to Manchester United with me," Moyes told talkSPORT last year. "I met him and his wife and we agreed it all when he was at Bayern Munich."

However, Kroos went on to change his mind after Moyes was sacked and instead signed for Real Madrid in 2014.

The German World Cup winner probably has no regrets about his decision. He’s won a host of major honours at the Bernabeu in recent years, including La Liga and three Champions League titles.

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

Thiago Alcantara

Man Utd were strongly linked with Barcelona’s Thiago when Moyes took charge of the Red Devils, but the technically-gifted midfielder ended up completing a surprise move to Bayern Munich instead.

The Spain international is still plying his trade at the Allianz Arena now, winning multiple titles along the way, including six Bundesliga winners’ medals.


Gareth Bale

Man Utd tried to hijack Gareth Bale’s 2013 move from Tottenham to Real Madrid and even offered more than £86 million - the fee Los Blancos coughed up - but the Welshman had his heart set on the Bernabeu.

The 30-year-old has been linked with a move to United on several occasions since but is still a Madrid player for now.

Bale has scored 104 goals in 238 games for Madrid, winning four Champions League titles in the process.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Thomas Muller

Jose Mourinho was keen to add Muller to his ranks during his first summer transfer window in 2016 and United backed him by submitting an £85 million offer for the German forward, which was rejected.

Two years earlier, when Louis van Gaal was in charge, United also tried to sign Muller but he had no interest in leaving the Allianz Arena for Manchester.

His goalscoring stats haven’t been particularly impressive for Bayern in recent seasons but he surely would have been a decent signing for the Red Devils a few years ago.


Sergio Ramos

In the summer of 2015 it genuinely looked like Man Utd were about to sign Sergio Ramos, whose relationship with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had reportedly broken down completely.

United fans waited and waited before the painfully predictable news arrived and crushed them: Ramos had patched up his differences with Perez and agreed a new long-term contract with Los Blancos.

Basically, it felt like Ramos had deliberately used United in order to get a better contract from Madrid. He wasn’t the first player to do this and he won’t be the last.

But how United could have done with the Spaniard in their dressing room. They’ve lacked leaders in recent seasons and the 33-year-old, who is Box Office whenever he plays, would have significantly improved things at Old Trafford.



Pedro decided to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2015 after falling down the pecking order under Luis Enrique at Camp Nou.

He had two attractive options from England: one from Chelsea, and the other from United.

The Spanish forward opted for Stamford Bridge and hasn’t looked back since, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League.

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final

Raphael Varane

Varane had already rejected United once before during the Ferguson era before snubbing them again in the summer of 2016 when Mourinho had just arrived.

“Manchester United are a very big club. But from the moment when Madrid and I are in sync on my project, there's no questions to ask yourself,” the French defender told reporters.

“I have always said I feel good in Madrid. It's not easy to say no to Jose Mourinho, but you have to weigh up the pros and the cons.”

Two more Champions League winners’ medals later and it’s fair to say that Varane, who also won the World Cup with France in 2018, made a smart decision.


Sadio Mane

Van Gaal wanted to sign Mane from Southampton in 2015 but was unable to get his man.

The Senegalese winger later told reporters: “Some teams wanted me. Manchester (United), the wrong team wanted me. Of course, I spoke with Van Gaal and they even made an offer.

"But for me it was not the right club, it was not the right moment. To feel this - the right moment, the right coach, the right club."

He would sign for Liverpool in 2016 and is now widely regarded as one of the best footballers in the world.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final


Mourinho was keen to reunite with Willian at Old Trafford in the summer of 2018, months before he was sacked, but the Brazilian decided to reject his old coach in favour of staying put at Chelsea.

Would he have improved United that much? Well, he did play 56 times for Chelsea last season, scoring eight goals, so perhaps he would have done (a bit).

But United fans weren’t particularly disappointed when this transfer failed to materialise.

Southampton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

N’Golo Kante

What a difference Kante would have made at Old Trafford.

Mourinho tried to convince the world-class midfielder to join United instead of Chelsea in 2016 - but his attempt was unsuccessful.

"It was amazing to have Mourinho call me, even though I'd been warned before how he would appeal to me," Kante said in 2016. "I listened to his arguments about why I should move to United.

"But at that time I was hesitant between staying at Leicester or leaving for Chelsea.

"My discussions with them were already well underway. But when I spoke, I had a good feeling with Conte."

Kante is now considered the best defensive midfielder in world football.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League

Antoine Griezmann

Two years before he eventually left Atletico Madrid for Barcelona, Griezmann was strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford.

The French forward was reportedly keen to link up with his close friend Paul Pogba but Diego Simeone convinced him to stay put in the Spanish capital.

Griezmann is now playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez following his €120 million summer move.


Alvaro Morata

Morata revealed that Man Utd had attempted to sign him in 2017, despite also landing Romelu Lukaku, who was Chelsea’s main target that summer.

Whether United would have signed both players is unclear, but Morata fancied a move to Stamford Bridge more than Old Trafford.

Things didn’t work out for the Spanish striker in west London, however, and he now plies his trade with Atletico Madrid.