Claudio Ranieri has sensationally revealed that he tried to sign Michael Carrick when he was in charge at Chelsea, but opted instead for his former West Ham United team-mate Frank Lampard.
The veteran Italian tactician was at the helm at Stamford Bridge between 2000 and 2004 and attempted to bring the ex-Hammers duo to west London.
When it became apparent that Ranieri would only be able to secure the services of one of them he opted for Lampard because of his professionalism, and he has no regrets about making that choice because the 36-year-old remains the best player he's ever worked with.
That's quite a claim from the 63-year-old, whose current role is in charge of the Greece national team, particularly when you consider the calibre of players he's had the pleasure of coaching in a career that spans more than 30 years.
"Frank Lampard was my first signing at Chelsea and he was fantastic,” Ranieri told Sky Sports. “Afterwards, experience made the difference. But right from the start he was unbelievable.
"He improved a lot also in a defensive way. I rank him as No.1 of all the players I have worked with.
“At West Ham, I looked at him and Michael Carrick. I wanted to buy both but it wasn’t possible. So I went for Frank.”
Lampard is set to play his last ever game in the Premier League this weekend when Manchester City take on Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. After leaving Chelsea last summer he signed for new Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC, but was controversially sent back to England on loan and joined up with Manuel Pellegrini's side.
As for Carrick, he ended up joining Tottenham Hotspur in 2004 and spent a couple of years there before moving on to Old Trafford, where he's continued playing ever since.
Manchester United fans will be relieved Ranieri decided against pursuing the veteran England international or else they might never have got the chance to see him turn out in a Red Devils shirt.
He's certainly played an important role in the first-team at the Theatre of Dreams, none more so than this season under Louis van Gaal where he's established himself as one of the club's most consistent performers.
Carrick has been notable by his absence when he's been unavailable for selection through injury. He limped out of the Manchester derby and the veteran Dutch coach's team ended up losing their next three games in a row.
Manchester United fans: Who do you think is better out of Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard? Did Claudio Ranieri choose right when he was in charge of Chelsea? Have your say below...
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