Buffon reveals when Sir Alex tried to sign him
Paris Saint-Germain’s goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson had attempted to sign him for Manchester United during the early stages of his now iconic career.
The 41-year-old phenomenon has been speaking to Reds legend Rio Ferdinand for broadcaster BT Sport, ahead of Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions League last-16 second-leg tie at Parc des Princes.
As Buffon explains in a teaser clip from the interview, he was tracked by United during his time at first club Parma from 1995 to 2001. That timeframe suggests Sir Alex had considered the Italian stopper as an option to replace the great Peter Schmeichel when he left Old Trafford in 1999.
Of course, finding a long-term successor to the Great Dane became a drawn-out process that only really ended when another goalkeeping great, Edwin van der Sar, was signed from Fulham in 2005.
Asked by Rio if he had ever received an offer to play in England, Buffon explains: “Yes, when I was a boy playing for Parma, Ferguson tracked me closely for two or three years and he’d always send scouts to watch me. At the time Parma, was my world and I didn’t feel like leaving.”
Mr Buffon reveals all... @manchesterunited transfer target in 2001 after being watched by the great man Sir Alex 👀⚽ Honour to sit alongside @gianluigibuffon & talk to him about all things football, success, leadership and mental health! #RioMeets #PSG #Buffon #MUFC pic.twitter.com/jk7aIxv4ji— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 4, 2019
However, as he tells Rio, there was another opportunity to play in England that he turned down. “I later had a big offer from Manchester City when they started to build the team. They wanted me to be the first signing, but I stayed at Juve.”
Rio has also been speaking to PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel ahead of our Champions League tie in France and the German tactician is effusive in his praise of star striker Kylian Mbappe.
Quizzed on what it is like to coach the World Cup winner, Tuchel says: “Well the guy is hungry and he has a big personality for 20 years, really big.
"This is not always easy. The big personalities do not always go the easy way. He is challenging me, as a coach, for sure, and at the same time he is a super nice guy.
"For me it is necessary that he has this kind of personality to challenge me and everybody around him because he has the hunger to be a special player in history. For me he is a striker. He is not a Messi. For me he is a striker. He can be the best striker in the world. He is on his way.”