There are few clubs in the world bigger than Manchester United.
If you live in the UK, you might look abroad for the sophistications of Real Madrid and Barcelona and point to them as evidence of bigger teams. If you’re in Spain, perhaps that foreign charm lands you closer to Manchester than you might have expected. The grass often seems greener and all that.
That can often lead to speculation. After all, the best players in the world can’t usually move to much headier heights than they currently occupy. Could Lionel Messi move any further up than Barcelona? Could Cristiano Ronaldo? Paul Pogba? If any of these players could take a step up, there would certainly only be a step or two to choose from. And that’s where the paper talk comes in.
For Brazilian legend Rivaldo, one of the world’s greatest players, that was certainly the case, as he has revealed that Manchester United were rumoured to have been interested in signing him during his time at Barcelona.
Speaking at Betsafe Star Sixes 2017, the Barcelona icon said, “Well there was a lot talk when I was at Barcelona that the club were thinking of transferring me to England but I never had the opportunity. In all the newspapers in Barcelona there were rumours that a few agents were speaking to mine, I don’t know how true this is but the press said Manchester were interested; I don’t know how true this was but it was in the papers.”
If he had signed, perhaps we would have been treated to one of the finest talents in world football playing in the Premier League for a side who were adept at finding their front men in the perfect position in the box. Indeed, Rivaldo considers 1999 – the year United won their historic treble – as his best ever season.
“In 1999 I was considered the best player of the world and for me this is so important, I came from an incredibly poor family and to go to being the best player in the world is incredible.”
“You can’t quite believe it and when it happens you start remembering when you were a small boy and yes I do think that this was the most important time of my life. You start off like millions of players and then become number one in the world, that’s impressive.”
Since it was the Betsafe Star Sixes Rivaldo was speaking at, he couldn’t be allowed to leave without giving his best small-sided team, of course.
“This is quite hard because I have more than five players in my head – I just hope those who don’t make the list don’t get angry. Ok, in goal Dida, Puyol, Figo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Rivaldo”
You get the feeling that Beckham, Scholes, Giggs or Keane might have made an appearance on that list had Rivaldo been the best player in the world on a treble-winning side in 1999 instead of lining up against them in the group stages. United may have missed out on another legendary icon of 1999.
Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and David James were speaking exclusively to Betsafe Star Sixes. For all the odds and betting markets on England vs Brazil, please click here.