Argentina superstar Juan Roman Riquelme has confirmed that Manchester United were eager to sign him in 2006 before Villarreal played Arsenal FC in the semi finals of the Champions League.
As per reports by Mundo Deportivo, the former FC Barcelona playmaker revealed that he turned down a move from Manchester United, citing it as as his only regret of a career littered with fantastic moments.
Riquelme, 37, is now retired, but during his peak, he was widely recognised as one of the most gifted Argentina players of his generation and almost single handedly carried Villarreal to the Champions League final in 2006 only for a late missed penalty.
The playmaker was a youth prodigy at Boca Juniors and his consistently excellent performances earned him a move to La Liga giants FC Barcelona.
However, things did not quite fall into place for Riquelme at Camp Nou as he endured a very frustrating time in the Catalan capital.
The playmaker was managed by Louis van Gaal, the current Manchester United boss, before being loaned out to Villarreal where he re-established his reputation as one of the most gifted players of his generation.
Scoring 15 league goals in his first season, Riquelme then made his move permanent at Villarreal, taking them into the semifinals of the Champions League where they lost out to Arsenal FC only because of a late, late missed penalty by the man himself.
Riquelme has confirmed that before his clash with Arsenal in the 2005/06 Champions League campaign, he had the chance to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s all conquering Manchester United side which was in a bit of transition at the time, desperate to win the league having missed out to Chelsea FC in the previous two years.
Riquelme told FOX Sports Radio, as reported by Mundo Deportivo: “The only thing I regret in my career was a decision that I took, when at the hotel in England before the semi-final with Arsenal, when Manchester United came to buy me and I said no.”
“I stayed at Villarreal, because I was very comfortable with my teammates.”
Juan Roman Riquelme went onto join his beloved Boca Juniors as he felt homesick away from home, going onto capture the Copa Libertadores before retiring in the 2013/14 season.
Manchester United, of course, went onto sign Anderson that season for the position where they would have played Riquelme.