Manchester United have endured many notable transfer failures over the years, with there seemingly a whole host of high-profile names who came so close to arriving at Old Trafford, only to ultimately move elsewhere.
Arguably the most frustrating of those near-misses have come in relation to those that had or have been repeatedly linked with the club window after window, yet with no deal ever actually coming to fruition.
The likes of Wesley Sneijder and Nicolas Gaitan are prime examples of that, as too is a certain Gareth Bale, with the talismanic Welshman having seemingly looked destined to join United on several occasions throughout his glittering career.
While the legendary United boss claimed that the Saints had been the main issue in failing to get a deal done, the player himself admitted he had opted for a move to north London amid the chance of more regular action.
After a slow start to life with the Lilywhites – where the explosive asset took 25 games to secure a win for the club – the fleet-footed powerhouse soon emerged as a real eye-catching talent, notably announcing himself on the world stage with a breathtaking treble against Inter Milan in the Champions League during the 2010/11 campaign.
His form during his final year at Spurs in the 2012/13 season again alerted those at the Theatre of Dreams, with the full-back-turned-winger netting 21 goals in just 33 league games, including a stunning solo goal in a 3-2 win over United away from home.
Following that scintillating season, the Wales international ultimately made a dream move to La Liga giants Real Madrid for a then-world record fee of £85.2m, albeit with Patrice Evra recently suggesting that the aforementioned Ferguson had been “99 per cent sure” that the club would sign both Bale and former hero Cristiano Ronaldo in a remarkable double swoop in that same summer.
As it proved, however, that ambitious approach never occurred with the pair going on to claim four Champions League triumph’s during their time together at the Bernabeu, with Bale then adding a fifth success in the competition last term.
While it had proven something of a toxic stint in the Spanish capital, the attacking “superstar” – as dubbed by journalist Tom Bogart – still boasted an impressive record of 106 goals and 67 assists in 258 games for Los Blancos, memorably netting an outrageous overhead kick in the European showpiece victory over Liverpool in 2018.
Even throughout his time in Spain – which only recently came to an end following the 33-year-old’s move to MLS side LAFC earlier this summer – there were still further reports linking the 107-cap gem with a move to United, with a loan deal having been strongly mooted in the summer of 2020.
Even this summer, following his departure from Madrid, there had been a suggestion that the £2.7m-rated man should be snapped up on a free by Erik ten Hag and co, with the left-footed genius having further showcased his quality by helping to fire his country to World Cup qualification back in June.
Now at the latter stages of a glorious career that has seen him net 185 club career goals to date, it looks as if the ship has finally sailed as far as the Red Devils are concerned with regards to bringing Bale to the club.
That fact will be one that the Old Trafford outfit will always live to regret.