Manchester United have not been renowned for their astute transfer dealings over the last decade or so, having suffered multiple expensive mistakes and missed a number of golden opportunities with regards to incomings.
One such case of what might have been is that of current England star, Raheem Sterling, with the dynamic forward having reportedly been a target for the Red Devils during his time in the youth set-up at Queens Park Rangers.
As the story goes, the Old Trafford outfit had their eye on the then-teenager back in 2010, with academy director Brian McClair having been sent to watch the diminutive gem in action in a U18 game for the Rs.
Despite that interest, however, United were edged out by bitter rivals Liverpool in the race for the youngster’s signature, with the Reds said to have secured a deal for a fee of just £450k – rising to £2m – after having previously cost the Loftus Road outfit just £50 – a fee which went to the scout who spotted him.
Would you have liked to see Sterling at Old Trafford?
Not for me!
Sir Alex Ferguson and co were left to rue that missed opportunity as the Kingston-born starlet quickly went on to establish himself in the senior set-up at Anfield, providing 48 goal contributions in just 129 games during his stint on Merseyside.
Such form subsequently saw the 77-cap menace make a controversial £49m switch to Manchester City in the summer of 2015, albeit with United said to have made an enquiry regarding a shock move prior to that for a player who has since admitted he had been a boyhood fan of the club.
The 5 foot 7 “fighter” – as dubbed by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate – would go on to sparkle under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, winning a plethora of major honours and registering 227 goal involvements in 339 games over the next seven years.
Having had to witness the 27-year-old star for their Manchester rivals – while also becoming a crucial asset at international level – the Red Devils have only recently seen Sterling make the switch to yet another Premier League rival in Chelsea, joining for a reported fee of around £47.5m.
That figure represents something of a bargain when considering that the £325k-per-week man is said to be worth around £105m, according to CIES Football Observatory, with that valuation a marker of just how far he has come since that initial £450k switch to Liverpool over a decade ago.
Now “one of the best in the world” – according to Blues teammate and international colleague, Mason Mount – Sterling will likely continue to make those at the Theatre of Dreams pay for their inaction all those years ago.