Ralf Rangnick urged Manchester United to buy both Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland and make them the future of the club during his brief spell at Old Trafford.
As Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford prepare to finally get their feet under the desk at Old Trafford, addressing United’s failings in the transfer market will be high on their agenda.
But how far did the club actually ignore advice when it was presented to them?
For the first half of 2022, Rangnick was the club’s interim head coach and potential sporting advisor. While his time leading the team proved inglorious, his expertise at building a club saw him diagnose Manchester United’s failings and propose solutions.
And now, for the first time, i can reveal some of the names he proposed to the club in an extensive transfer hitlist provided to Old Trafford chiefs before Erik ten Hag’s appointment in the summer of 2022.
United went on to spend £241m that summer, but not on any of the players Rangnick identified. Instead, they signed Antony, midfielder Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez – all largely on Ten Hag’s say-so.
Bellingham, then of Borussia Dortmund, was an obvious pick, along with Haaland – who ultimately picked Manchester City. But Rangnick also identified Enzo Fernandez when he was playing in Argentina, and Josko Gvardiol, then at RB Leipzig, as potential Manchester United players.
Rangnick’s ally Demba Ba, who was being mentored by the now Austria head coach, had sight of the list. Ba was close to taking a role at Old Trafford during that time, only for work permit issues to prevent it.
And he had a unique insight into what Rangnick was trying to do – and who he proposed to the club. Many of the players he included on his list have gone on to make big-money Premier League moves.
“I speak from time to time with Ralf (Rangnick) still. He is not a guy who reaches out, he keeps you in his heart from afar. Amazing guy,” Ba tells i as part of a wide-ranging interview.
“People talk about him being a failure at Manchester United but that’s not so. He was set up to fail, really.
“If you had the list in your head that he gave to Manchester United to sign when he was there you’d be amazed. This was in January 2022.
“Josko Gvardiol was on it. Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland were on it, that’s for sure. Enzo Fernandez, now at Chelsea, was there.
“You forget but he had a big list of players. He diagnosed the problems at the club but the governance was not right there. It’s not right, the set up isn’t how it should be.”