Imagine a scenario with a young Cristiano Ronaldo and a young Arjen Robben bombing down the wings, floating in crosses or cutting inside to unleash powerful strikes on goal.
That scenario nearly came true.
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According to an interview in FourFourTwo magazine, Robben nearly joined Manchester United in 2004 after a positive conversation over dinner with then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson and a tour of the club’s training grounds.
But for whatever reason, nothing came of it. Soon, Chelsea snapped up the Flying Dutchman and the rest is history.
“I had a very good conversation with [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life,” Robben said. “I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good.
“I had a very good conversation with Ferguson over dinner and we spoke about football and life. Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed. But after I went back to PSV nothing happened. There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen. PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know.”
Robben helped lead Chelsea to back to back Premier League titles, a pair of League Cup titles and an FA Cup crown before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.
Man United won the Premier League title in Robben’s final year at Chelsea but only won a League Cup title in that span, as Chelsea were the dominant team in English football.
It’s fun to think though about what could have been, had Robben wound up at Man United, with two of the most exciting wingers in the world playing for the same club.