Regret. In the world of football, it is a term that quite often comes to haunt clubs, big or small. It is a sentiment that quite often manifests whenever clubs miss out on key signings, or when clubs let go of current players. It is these very players who go on to do bigger things in their careers than what the club had initially expected of them. It is a fact that clubs, in order to raise capital, do see selling their current players as a viable business model. Clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea have even made it the lifeline of their finances. Buying young talent for a relatively cheap price. Later, developing them and selling them for a profit. However, a club like Manchester United does not find itself in that bracket. As the club's immense commercial success off the field is healthy enough to balance the books and finance high-profile acquisitions.
Now, although Manchester United is not traditionally regarded as a selling club. They do have a history of trades which have surely brought them some regret over the years. As it is these very players who have gone on to achieve glory and more for the clubs they have gone on to play for. On that note, let's take a look at
Top 5 players Manchester United regret losing
#5 Diego Forlan
Manchester United fans tend to have a strong memory. Whenever Diego Forlan's name comes up, it is sure to leave a smile on the faces of those who remember the time when he scored a screamer and ripped off his jersey while celebrating. Yet one of his more memorable moments at Manchester United will surely be the goals he scored against Liverpool. It was a game where he won the hearts of those at the Stretford End, as they sang:
"He came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry!"
Diego Forlan, a Manchester United signing from 2002, is surely a player United have regretted letting go of. During his spell, Forlan found himself third in the pecking order after Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Following this, he was deemed surplus to requirements and was sold to Villareal. The following season, Diego Forlan went on to win the 2004-05 Pichichi award and the European Golden Boot. A signing United will surely regret letting go of.
#4 Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku's string of splendid performances at Everton meant that in 2017 he would sign as the new number nine for Jose Mourinho's Manchester United. Although Lukaku got off to a flying start during his first season at the club, his time at United could be best described as an unwanted striker after Mourinho's spell ended the following season, and in came Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Lukaku no longer fit into Solskjær's tactics as he demanded a highly mobile, pressing, and lethal forward.
However, after having moved on to Inter Milan in 2019, Romelu Lukaku proved everyone wrong. As it was his performances with 30 goals during the season that made sure Inter Milan won their 19th Scudetto.
Romelu Lukaku is back with Chelsea in the Premier League and is sure to add to the regrets of Manchester United.
#3 David Beckham
David Beckham, the midfield magician of Manchester United's legendary class of 92', caused a massive heartbreak for all fans when he decided to move to Real Madrid in 2003. It was a move that added to Manchester United's blushes as they lost out on a generational talent. Repeated feuds off-the-pitch with United's greatest manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, meant the player had no option but to leave.
Selling David Beckham will always be remembered as a mistake as he then went on to become a Spanish Champion with Real Madrid and played alongside the likes of Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, and Luis Figo.
#2 Paul Pogba
In 2012, a young Paul Pogba left Manchester United to join Italian giants Juventus on a free transfer. Pogba established himself as one of the world's best midfielders during his time in Italy. He also went on to become a four-time Italian champion with Juventus. Manchester United would go on to regret allowing this move to take place only to purchase him again.
Hence, considering his immense commercial value and football qualities that he had developed in Italy. In 2016, Manchester United decided to make him the world's most expensive player and signed him again for £89.3 million.
A cost that United could have avoided had they not let go of him in the first place.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who needs no introduction at all. He is probably the greatest player of all time to play the sport. At the same time, he is also one of the most beloved players to have ever donned a Manchester United jersey.
Ronaldo made headlines in 2009 when it was announced he would be making a move to Real Madrid in a transfer worth up to £80 million. It is no wonder that Manchester United came to regret this move as Cristiano Ronaldo went on to win five Ballon d'Ors, four Champions League titles, and two Spanish titles away.
However, the love for Cristiano Ronaldo never faded at Old Trafford. It was on deadline day of the last transfer window when Manchester United announced that Cristiano would be signing for the club for a second time.
It is no secret that Manchester United let go of Cristiano when his best years were ahead of him. Yet, with Cristiano back for a second spell, this move is sure to take away any regrets.