Legendary Red Devils defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed that Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara phoned him back in 2013 when he left Barcelona with the hope of signing for Manchester United.
United were then beginning a new era under David Moyes, who lasted eight months in the Old Trafford hot seat, and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who recently announced he would be stepping down.
Coming off the back of a record 20th top-flight league title win, Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and an aging squad meant it was time for new blood – but the United hierarchy declined to bring Alcantara in, according to Ferdinand.
Speculation of Alcantara signing for United was rife across the back pages, increased tenfold when someone – believed to be David De Gea – wrote ‘See you in Manchester’ on Thiago’s Under-21 European Championship final match ball, having scored a hat-trick.
Speaking on his YouTube show, Vibe with FIVE, six-time Premier League champion Ferdinand said: “Before Thiago left Barcelona, he called me.
“We played against Barcelona in the States on tour, and he was unreal,” referencing a 2011 pre-season friendly.
“He was playing as the 10, and he scored a worldie.
“So we knew about him anyway, and a few years later, Moyes was manager.”
It was not Ferdinand who initiated the contact, however, but Alcantara himself.
“I don’t speak to Thiago, I don’t know him, but David De Gea gave him my number,” the 42-year-old revealed.
“‘He rang me, and he said: ‘Rio, I would love to come to Man Utd. Can you speak to someone?’”
That summer, the Red Devils were linked with countless names such as Thiago, Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas – only to sign Marouane Fellaini on deadline day.
Despite being highly sought-after in 2013, it seems that the Old Trafford chiefs were prioritising other deals that also did not materialise.
“So I spoke to the people at the club, Moyes and Woodward. I mentioned it.”
Ferdinand claimed they responded by saying: “‘We’re already down the line with a couple of other signings. It’s fine.’
“He was given 24 hours, Thiago, to make a decision.”
The decision was whether to link up with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, who had brought Thiago through at the Nou Camp.
“He ended up ringing me up next morning again, ‘I’ve slept on it, can you let me know about Man Utd, what’s going on?’
“He said again, ‘I’ve got 24 hours to make a decision, otherwise Pep won’t take me to Bayern Munich’.”
Having decided to join Bayern, Thiago went on to win seven Bundesliga titles and one Champions League crown before leaving for Anfield in 2020 when United were again reportedly interested.