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How Manchester United missed out on signing Kylian Mbappe and Gabriel Jesus

Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
927   //    22 Dec 2017, 16:04 IST

Manchester United Mbappe Jesus Giggs
Ryan Giggs wanted both Kylian Mbappe and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester United

What's the story?

If Ryan Giggs had his way, then Manchester United would have signed both Kylian Mbappe and Gabriel Jesus for peanuts. Except they ignored his wishes.

In an interview with The Times, the Red Devils legend claimed he had watched the two players for a while when they were much younger and had urged the Old Trafford club to sign them.

“I watched Gabriel Jesus play three years ago," Giggs sadi. "I watched [kylian] Mbappe for a year.

"I was watching them with the scout and it was a no-brainer. It was just like, ‘Get them.’ It would have been £5 million or something.

Although Giggs knew they would not have got into the first team at the time as mere teenagers, his plan was to sign them and then loan them back to their respective clubs so they could continue to develop before United brought them to Old Trafford when they were ready.

"Get them, loan them back. And that’s where the recruitment could have been better.”

In case you didn't know...

Kylian Mbappe has attracted attention ever since he was tearing it up in teenage age groups. He had even had trials at Chelsea and Real Madrid before AS Monaco signed him up in 2013.

Three years ago, Gabriel Jesus was in the Palmeiras youth team. He was 17 at the time when Giggs claimed he watched him and had yet to make his senior team debut. It was only after he played for the senior team that the Brazilian shot to fame with 21 goals in his second and final season.

The heart of the matter

Giggs is not far from the guesstimate of how much it would have cost United to sign Jesus. The Brazilian signed a professional contract with Palmeiras after they realised he was too good for the U-17 team (he had scored 37 goals in 22 games) and when they saw interest from clubs in Brazil and abroad.

That contract had a buyout clause set at R$30m (Brazilian Real). That is approximately £6-7m today. However, a phone call from Pep Guardiola convinced Jesus to sign for City who were willing to pay £27m after he made his breakthrough.

On the other hand, Mbappe was making heads turn when he broke Thierry Henry's record at Monaco when he became the youngest-ever first-team player at 16. A whirlwind 2016/17 season eventually say him move to PSG despite interest from as many as four clubs.

Video: Kylian Mbappe vs Gabriel Jesus

Author's take

United were not the only club scouting these players. A number of clubs were watching them and it was Monaco who pounced on Mbappe who wanted to stay in France while City did not blink when paying a huge sum to sign Jesus even though he was still untested in Europe.

This seems like a thinly-veiled attack on United by Giggs after he failed to nail down a coaching role at the club. Giggs has been on the lookout for a managerial post at a big club after refusing to get his feet wet in smaller clubs in the lower leagues.

Besides, United managed to sign Anthony Martial while they also have Marcus Rashford who graduated from their own academy. Mbappe and Jesus may be better now, but United do not have a dearth of options on that front and they have plenty of time to develop if they are coached right.

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Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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