Ilkay Gundogan was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final targets before the Manchester United boss retired in 2013, according to the club’s former coach Rene Meulensteen. Former Red Devils first team coach Rene Meulensteen has claimed the club eyed up German trio Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Marco Reus.
He said, “We looked at a few German players like Hummels, who went to Bayern Munich. I think we looked at Gundogan and Reus, too. There was a number of players but we never got that specific to really target them.”
Ferguson called time on his coaching career after steering United to a 13th Premier League title in the 2012-13 season.
A memorable campaign saw Robin van Persie score 26 times, while it was also midfielder Paul Scholes’ final year at Old Trafford. The most important event of them all though, was the news that Sir Alex was finally going into retirement.
Meulensteen – a first-teach coach under Ferguson at the time – admitted Gundogan, then of Borussia Dortmund, was wanted by the Scot as a replacement for Scholes.
“If Fergie had carried on then we would have added some more quality, probably some more energy,” Meulensteen told the Evening Standard.
“I wouldn’t say it was an ageing squad, it was a mature squad.
“I’m sure if Fergie would have stayed the continuity and stability would’ve been there and United would’ve competed for the title again.
“We were looking at Gundogan from Dortmund and (Marco)
“We were looking at Gundogan – someone similar [to Scholes], who could keep ticking the ball over, thinks quick and has tempo.”
United finished seventh the season after Ferguson and Scholes left the club, with a troublesome campaign seeing David Moyes sacked after 10 months in charge.
Cesc Fabregas, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale were among a number of players Moyes had targeted during his one-and-only pre-season as United boss.
Moves for the trio failed to materialise miserably, however, with the Scot going on to sign Marouane Fellaini from former club Everton.
Ilkay Gundogan had also admitted that he nearly ended up playing in the Red Devils but couldn’t be happier at Manchester City.
After much speculation surrounding his future, the German became the first signing under Pep Guardiola, when he left Borussia Dortmund after five years for £20million in June 2016 which shows how widely sought and appreciated he was to those who understood his importance.
At his best, Gündogan was a marauding force who could dictate a game, with the opposition rarely able to stifle his influence.
The 27-year-old made 49 appearances as Pep Guardiola’s Centurions set new standards for excellence in English football. Gundogan’s performances have seen him attract interest from Barcelona and many other English clubs, although the player is happy in Manchester City as per news. But looking back its hard to imagine what could have been had he been actually persuaded to shift over then and had him now in the squad.