10/05/2016 13:27 BST | Updated 11/05/2017 06:12 BST

Six Big-Name Players Manchester United Were Beaten to in the Transfer Market

Manchester United are one of the world's most decorated football clubs, and a team that - as has been billed in the past - every player dreams of playing for. The Red Devils are among the elite of world football, and while they may still be going through a period of transition at the moment, that name just has a certain appeal to it.

...Or does it? The decisions of numerous transfer targets since the turn of the century seem to suggest otherwise.

United have just this week been beaten (again) in the transfer market to another of their primary targets, and here's the lowdown on that deal plus five others that have put egg on United faces in the past.

6. Renato Sanches

First up, the man who has become the latest to sign for another club right under United's noses.

Generally considered one of the most impressive teenage footballers in the world, you'll perhaps have come across Renato Sanches and his dreadlocked hair trailing in the wind in one of Benfica's domestic or Champions League matches this season. Or, perhaps you'll have seen him in the transfer gossip columns online and in the newspapers.

Perhaps the latter is more likely. The box-to-box midfielder has been hugely impressive this season and United were rumoured (for months) to be close to completing a transfer for him in the British press.

It came as a surprise to everybody, but Bayern Munich confirmed their deal to sign him on Tuesday and have made United look very, very silly in the process.

5. Toni Kroos

​Talking of Bayern Munich midfielders, United were hot on the tail of German World Cup-winning star Toni Kroos just a couple of summers ago.

Not a day would go by, it seemed, without the latest twist in the saga. David Moyes was desperately attempting to put his stamp on the team towards the end of his first - and in the end, only - season in charge at Old Trafford, and Kroos was key to his idea of a new look United.

However, Moyes was sacked just ten months into his reign, and all of the hard work he'd reportedly put in to bringing Kroos to Old Trafford was undone. Louis van Gaal pulled the plug on the deal, and Kroos went on to join Real Madrid instead.

4. Cesc Fabregas

Two summers' worth of effort, this one took. And all for nothing.

Cesc Fabregas had already shown in his years at Arsenal that he was more than accustomed to the Premier League, and United recognised that. They'd seen a number of offers rejected by Barcelona in 2013 to bring him back to England, and after getting a second wind - went back in for the Spaniard the following summer.

However, reports at the time claimed that Chelsea - who'd made an offer for the player themselves - had won the race to sign Fabregas because his girlfriend preferred living in London over Manchester.

Then again, separate reports claim LvG put paid to the deal when he took over too.

3. Arjen Robben

We could continue on all day by mentioning the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Pedro and Roberto Firmino from United's failed (and more recent) transfer dealings, but let's take a blast into the past.

Cast your mind back to 2004. United had already had their hands on Cristiano Ronaldo, and another of European football's future star names nearly joined too. Arjen Robben was lighting up the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV, and United had seemed all set to secure his signature.

The trouble was, Sir Alex Ferguson was willing to pay no more than £5million. Chelsea came along with more than double the money, and no surprises for guessing where he ended up.

2. Ronaldinho

​Can you imagine if this one had gone through?

Manchester United and Ronaldinho. Just think about it, how different would football have been? Would Barcelona be Barcelona? Would Lionel Messi be slightly worse without Ronnie's guidance? Who knows. It would have been great for the Premier League though.

The Brazilian has admitted he was a mere 48 hours away from officially signing for United from Paris Saint Germain in 2003 - but Barca presidential candidate Sandro Rosell stepped in to hijack the deal at the final moment.

1. Gareth Bale

​This is the one they've wanted. They still want him. There's no denying that and no withdrawing transfer offers at the final moment. Manchester United would take Gareth Bale this very second if Real Madrid would let him go.

The Welshman starred for Tottenham for a number of years in the Premier League. United, needing a successor for Ryan Giggs, felt there were none better. Their trouble was, no matter how much money they could throw at Spurs and Bale, the player always wanted that move to Spain.

Real Madrid ended up paying a world record fee to sign the 26-year-old from Tottenham, even while United had put a bigger sum on the table. Maybe it'll happen one day, but it won't be any time soon.

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