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What If Ronaldinho Had Signed For United?

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In 2003 when Ronaldinho was playing in France for Paris Saint-Germain, Sir Alex Ferguson identified the Brazilian as a player Manchester United needed to replace the likes of David Beckham, who had left to join Real Madrid, and Juan Sebastián Veron, the Argentine flop who had signed for Chelsea.

It was not to be, however, as Barcelona jumped in after losing out in the race for Beckham, and offered PSG £30m for the attacking midfielder.

Ronaldinho went on to play for 5 seasons with the Catalan giants scoring 70 goals in 145 games and winning La Liga twice and the Champions League once before signing for AC Milan for around £22m in 2008, but what could he have done at Old Trafford?

To be honest, it’s pretty difficult to understand what position he would have played in the side, or who would have been left out.

This was a squad that boasted a frontline of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Louis Saha and Diego Forlan, as well as a midfield consisting of then captain Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and a fresh new prospect by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The thought of leaving out Scholes just doesn’t sound good to me (and didn’t sound good then), although it was plain to see the brilliance of Ronaldinho. 

However it is worth noting that United largely misfired in what could have been Ronaldinho’s first season with the club, finishing 3rd in the league and losing to FC Porto in the first knockout stage of the Champions League after qualifying from the group. The FA Cup was United’s, though, a 3-0 defeat of Millwall in which Van Nistelrooy scored twice and Ronaldo the other.

With Ronaldinho in the side, I’m sure the team would have fared better home and abroad in 2003-04, and certainly the season after when the Old Trafford trophy cabinet went without an addition. United never filled the departure of Roy Keane in 2005, and by then Ronaldinho may well have become European Player of the Year while at the club, just as he did two years running in 2006 and 2006 with Barcelona.

Ronaldinho remains one of the best players that came close to signing for the club but never actually did. It’s my belief the team would have benefitted greatly with his presence, during what wasn’t a largely productive time for the club on the pitch.

By Jay @Jarisleif

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