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Monday, April 22, 2024

‘I regret that’: Italian explains why his Man United transfer collapsed

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Former Serie A goalkeeper Luigi Turci still ‘regrets’ his failed move to Manchester United at a time in which Sir Alex Ferguson was also looking to bring the legendary Gianluigi Buffon to the Premier League giants. 

Following an injury to Mark Bosnich early in the 1999/20 season, Manchester United went shopping in Serie A in pursuit of a new shot-stopper. 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s first port of call was none other than Gianlugi Buffon. A genuinely generation-defining glovesman, Buffon was one of European football’s rising stars at the time. But he could not bring himself to leave his beloved Parma even for a club who had defeated Bayern Munich to claim the treble a few months earlier. 

Manchester United wanted Gianluigi Buffon

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

“When I was a boy playing for Parma, Ferguson tracked me closely for two or three years,” Buffon recalls. “He’d always send scouts to watch me. At the time, Parma was my world. And I didn’t feel like leaving.” 

Two years later, Buffon would finally be lured away, joining Juventus in a £31 million deal. One which saw him reign as the planet’s most expensive glovesman for a remarkable 16 years.

Luigi Turci, in contrast, would not quite scale the same heights, even if a man who now works as a coach at AC Milan can still look back on a more-than respectable career with a great deal of personal pride.

“In 1999/2000, Manchester United made an offer to Udinese to sign me,” Turci tells TV Play, that aborted switch to Old Trafford still rankling with a man who would go on to spend another three years at Udinese before leaving for Sampdoria.  

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“Unfortunately, Udinese had already submitted the UEFA (squad) list. And Ferguson took Taibi in my place.

“United were looking for an Italian goalkeeper. The first to be contacted was Buffon, but he refused. The second was me, but the timings didn’t match.

“Even today, I regret that missed transfer. I have a copy of the fax on my phone!” 

Massimo Taibi’s historic mistake

Taibi, of course, is something of a mythical figure in Manchester United’s history, albeit not for particularly positive reasons.

Taibi’s famous blunder – allowing a Matt Le Tissier daisycutter to squirm through his body during a 3-3 draw with Southampton – remains one of the most iconic gaffes in the top-flight. 

Man United will have another ex-Serie A stopper in goal when they take on City in the Manchester derby on Sunday. After a tough start, Andre Onana has been quietly excellent since the turn of the year.

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