Man Utd have always lost out on big players – Neville on De Ligt

The ex-United skipper says the club missed out on top stars even at the height of their success, and he is in no rush for them to return to the top

Manchester United legend Gary Neville says it is nothing new for the club to miss out on major talent in the transfer market and he is “not in a rush” to see them winning the game’s biggest trophies again.

United look set to miss out on Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, with the 19-year-old Dutchman thought to have an agreement with Barcelona, but Neville insists that such near-misses in the transfer market happened even when the Red Devils were ultra-successful under Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I think United can still attract top-end players because we’ve seen good players come to the club over the last six or seven years,” said Neville after taking part in the match celebrating the 20th anniversary of United’s 1999 treble win.

“This club will never move away from being a sensational football club, it will have difficult moments and it’s having a difficult time now.

“The money in the game now means you’re always in competition. The club has lost players when it’s been successful to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. It lost Robben to Chelsea in the mid-2000s, we lost Nasri to City, don’t always think that when Sir Alex Ferguson was here it didn’t happen.

“This club lost players when it was successful to some of the biggest clubs in Europe that are competing with United. Don’t think that if United lose players now to Barcelona that this is the first time it’s ever happened, it’s happened before.

“It’s not because of the current plight, or the coach, or the manager, or the current players. It just happens sometimes. It happened during successful times too.”

United’s legends side beat their Bayern Munich counterparts 5-0 in the charity fixture for the Manchester United Foundation, with current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer netting the opening goal.

And Neville added that one of Solskjaer’s purported targets, Crystal Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, is exactly the type of player United should be courting.

“He’s a massive talent and the club, to be fair, have always signed young, emerging British talent and I don’t think that should change, and it would seem to me that the club would like to go back down that route and he [Wan-Bissaka] is one.

“The price is always going to be big because clubs are wise now to it, you can’t pinch players off clubs for £5m or £6m. They are wise to it and have the Premier League funding of £100-odd million so they don’t need to panic, they don’t need extra £5m or £10m, they want £50m or £60m.

“As long as they sign the right talent, I’m always encouraged,” the former right-back continued. “I’m also encouraged by the fact that Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay are playing.

“I’m encouraged by the fact the club are giving opportunities to young players, even in these times because for me that’s something that’s part of Manchester United’s history, it’s what Manchester United is.  You just have to sign the right players and give them the platform to perform and the belief and opportunity.

“I’m not in a rush with Manchester United, I don’t have to see them be successful in the next 10 minutes.  As long as the principles are right, play good football, bring the right players through, try and win as best you can, don’t give in, good attitude… and for me I can wait for two, three, four, five years for the club to be successful. It isn’t a problem for me. 

“I lived through 20 years as a fan when I was growing up where the club wasn’t successful. I’m not in a rush I just want to see the right things happen and with Ole here as a coach there’s an opportunity for that to happen.”

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