Luka Modric was once the subject of a Manchester United decision not to pursue a deal.
Luka Modric was once begged by Rio Ferdinand to join Manchester United. Instead, the Red Devils decided to sign Shinji Kagawa, who failed miserably at Old Trafford.
In 2008, Modric made his first move to England to play for Tottenham. He was slated to depart the Spurs in the summer of 2012 after more than 150 appearances.
Ferdinand thought he had persuaded him to join United and wanted him there. Instead, Modric agreed to a deal with Real Madrid, while Sir Alex Ferguson signed Kagawa to a £17 million contract.
Since then, Modric has enjoyed a successful career for both club and country, winning five Champions Leagues, three La Liga championships, the Ballon d’Or, and the World Cup Golden Ball in 2018. Kagawa, in contrast, played for United just 57 times before departing in 2014 to re-join Dortmund.
On his YouTube channel Vibe with Five, Ferdinand reflected on the futile attempt to catch Modric. He has disclosed that although he spoke to Ferguson and Dortmund’s CEO David Gill, a deal had already been made for Kagawa.
“I used to think that I could somehow get into any player that was available or was coming up,” stated Ferdinand. Even Thiago Alcantara at Liverpool was on the verge of joining Bayern Munich when I spoke to him before he left Barcelona; nonetheless, we ended up signing [Marouane] Fellaini.
Modric, however, I recall asking him, “Are you leaving [Tottenham]?” and he responded, “Yeah, I suppose I’m going to go,” but he was unsure of his exact destination at the time.
I told him, “Listen, you have to come to United, man,” and he responded, “Yeah, listen, I want to be the first Croatian to play for Man United; I want to be that guy. Can we make it happen?”
But that never happened. The manager [Sir Alex] at the time had already agreed with Shinji Kagawa, I believe it was – I believe that was the year, I’m sure it was, when I spoke to David Gill. Or perhaps they already had plans for another player, made the transaction, Modric moved to Madrid, and the rest is history.
At the age of 37, Modric is still going strong. He has so far this season played in 19 of Real’s 20 La Liga games.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old Kagawa recently returned on a free transfer to his previous team Cerezo Osaka. Since his second departure from Dortmund in 2019, he has spent time in Turkey, Spain, Greece, and Belgium.