Since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have rarely got it wrong when it comes to recruitment thanks to the work of both the German coach and the Reds’ highly-rated former sporting director Michael Edwards.
The powers at Anfield struck gold when building their formidable team featuring the likes of Alisson Becker, Mohammed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane, winning almost every trophy available to them over the last seven years including the club’s first Premier League title in 2020.
However, it wasn’t always this way. During the 2000s, Liverpool missed out on potential team-changing transfers on many occasions, which cost them dominance and their ability to win a league title sooner rather than later.
Speaking to FourFourTwo (via The Daily Star), the now retired centre-back admitted that he had conversations with then-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, saying: “Yes. Rafa Benitez [then-Liverpool boss] called me and I nearly went there. I was interested in going. My English wasn’t good and I was struggling to communicate.”
“Then Manchester United came. Fergie called me at my apartment and said: ‘I watched you play for Serbia against France – I want you here’. United were decisive. Everything was done very quickly, within two days.”
The Serbian star tallied up 300 appearances in total for Liverpool’s biggest Premier League rivals and became the lynchpin in United’s latest era of dominance, with the highly-rated defender winning five Premier League titles, one Champions League and three League Cups during his eight years at Old Trafford.
In a 2019 Twitter poll by Sky Sports News, Vidic was voted the greatest centre-back in Premier League history, pipping Liverpool’s Van Dijk in a head-to-head with 54.5% of the votes, which is a credit to what he achieved whilst leading the back line for Manchester United.
Indeed, Vidic has been the recipient of the highest praise over the years for his outstanding contributions to the Red Devils, with former team-mate Paul Scholes hailing the player “unbeatable”.
Furthermore, Rio Ferdinand – the Serbian’s main centre-back partner as they formed one of the greatest centre-back duos that the Premier League has ever seen, gushed: “He became a defender that was feared. He could fight with the most physical, he crunched into tackles, he attacked the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen. But as he will tell you with a smile, he could also play with the ball too, which made him complete and a great defender.”
With that being said, there is no doubt that Benitez had an absolute howler by not signing Vidic for Liverpool when he had the chance, and it will certainly be one of the missed opportunities that the Spaniard will surely regret in hindsight as he ultimately allowed Man United to sign a force of nature.