Rio Ferdinand has claimed that he was on the brink of bringing Luka Modric to Manchester United in the summer of 2012.
Speaking to the former defender’s FIVE YouTube channel, he revealed how close he came to convincing the legendary Croation midfielder to play for the club.
“Any player that was available or was coming up I used to think that I could somehow get into them,” Rio admitted.
The Champions League winning centre back claimed that he had done the same with Thiago Alcantara when he was leaving Barcelona in the summer window of 2012. The deal for the Spaniard “almost happened but we signed [Marouane] Fellaini instead”.
Ferdinand asserted that there was a similar situation for the Croatian midfielder who was highly sought after in the summer of 2012 due to his wonderful performances for Tottenham.
The player would eventually go onto to sign for Real Madrid and win a plethora of European and domestic trophies but according to Rio, it all could have been so different.
“But Modric, I remember speaking to him, I said, ‘Are you leaving [Tottenham]?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I think I’m going to go’ but he wasn’t sure at the time where he was going”.
“I said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to come to United, man’ and he said, ‘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?”
The former England international claimed that he spoke to the then chief executive, David Gill, and Sir Alex Ferguson but the club was already deep in discussions for the Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa.
“But it didn’t happen. I spoke to David Gill and the manager [Sir Alex] at the time had already agreed with Shinji Kagawa I think it was – I think that was the year, I’m sure it was. Or they already had irons in the fire with another player and they did that deal and then Modric went to Madrid and the rest is history.”
Sadly, the Japanese player would never really make it at United and would end up leaving after only two seasons. He is now playing back in his native Japan at 34 years of age.
The Daily Star, who relayed the interview claim that passing on Modric “proved to be a grave error” as the player went on to win five Champions Leagues and the Ballon d’Or in 2018, after helping Croatia reach the World Cup final in the same year.
It is clear what Ferguson thought of the Croatian as before playing Spurs in 2012 he stated, “Scholes and Modric are both intelligent footballers. They both influence their teams as well so it is a reasonable comparison”.
There are also parallels to Toni Kroos, who United were close to bringing in before Louis van Gaal scuppered the deal. It is painful to think of a scenario where Kroos and Modric could have lined up at Old Trafford and not the Bernabeu.
The rest they say is history but it is frustrating to think what could have been. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Modric joining instead of Kagawa would have been a significant upgrade, and who knows how successful Manchester United could have been with one of the greatest players of his generation lining up in red.