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Friday, June 14, 2024

How Manchester United blew signing the world’s best midfielder of the past decade, Scholes wanted it, Moyes agreed it

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Back in 2014, Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. The night had started well, with Patrice Evra scoring a stunner.

Bayern eventually wore Manchester United down, with Toni Kroos pulling the strings in midfield. He had 92 touches and created three goalscoring chances on the way to a 3-1 victory for his side.

This came at a time Kroos was being strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford. His agent had been pictured meeting up with then boss David Moyes.

Fast forward to 2024, a decade on, Kroos is still making a splash in the Champions League. This week his incisive pass set up Vinicius Jr for a goal against his former club Bayern in an entertaining semi-final first leg which ended 2-2.

Back in 2014, the silver lining of defeat to Bayern was that United might win a bigger battle, by signing Kroos in the summer. It didn’t happen, and the Red Devils have regretted it ever since.

  • READ: Manchester United’s 13 biggest transfer misses of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era

(From L) Real Madrid's German midfielder Toni Kroos, Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro and Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric ...

Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

How Manchester United blew the Toni Kroos deal

Missing out on Toni Kroos in 2014 laid bare a huge problem which has taken a decade to get near to fixing, that the club’s transfer policy has revolved around individual managers, rather than having a coherent strategy overseen by a sporting director.

David Moyes had done a lot of the hard work, wooing Kroos and trying to persuade him to swap Bayern Munich for Manchester United, the deal was lined up.

The problem was that Moyes’ team could not deliver on the pitch, and the Scotsman was sacked on April 22, two weeks after defeat in Munich.

It threw United’s transfer plans into chaos, for a second successive summer. A new manager had to be appointed, with Louis van Gaal chosen, although he did not start work until after the 2014 World Cup.

This left a void, and after the embarrassing 2013 summer transfer window, United tried to give him what he wanted. And this did not include Toni Kroos, despite Talksport claiming he could cost just £20 million.

The Guardian reported in late May that Louis van Gaal made the decision he did not wish to target the central midfielder, who he already knew from his time as Bayern manager.

The Kroos deal simply fell through the gaps without a sporting director in place to push it through.

Kroos told The Athletic in 2020 that he was ready to sign, before Van Gaal was appointed. Real Madrid later tempted him away, landing him for just over £20 million.

The German said: “David Moyes had come to see me and the contract had basically been done but then Moyes was fired and Louis van Gaal came in, which complicated matters.

“Louis wanted time to build his own project. I didn’t hear anything from United for a while and started having doubts. Then the World Cup started and Carlo Ancelotti called. And that was it.”

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes had said at the time: “The first player I’d bring in is Toni Kroos. He’s a top-class central midfield player.”

United and Van Gaal signed his ageing teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger a year later, who had missed the second leg of that quarter-final after he was sent off in the first leg at Old Trafford.

His spell at United was pretty disastrous, later ostracised by Jose Mourinho, and long since retired, while Kroos is still going strong.

David Moyes still reflects on the near miss, telling beIN SPORTS to “Toni Kroos would certainly be the one,” when referring to his biggest ever transfer regret.

Midfield has been a constant weakness over the past decade at Manchester United, and Kroos might have changed everything.

  • READ MORE: Manchester United transfer history 2013 to present day

What Toni Kroos has won since

Toni Kroos has enjoyed remarkable success at Real Madrid and will reflect that he probably had a lucky escape dodging the mess at Manchester United over the past decade, even if he could have fixed it.

He formed one of the most complete midfield trios in recent history alongside Casemiro and Luka Modric.

In 2014 he won the World Cup with Germany, before a spree of club success with Real Madrid.

Kroos has won three La Liga titles, and four Champions League titles. He has a chance to add a fifth this season.

He’s also won the Copa del Rey, three UEFA Super Cups and five Club World Cup medals.

Kroos is still only 34. If the Glazers were still operating transfer policy, United would probably still be pushing to bring him in this summer.

The German midfielder’s quality still endures. While United are still flitting between sixth and seventh place in the Premier League table, just like in 2014.

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