The star Man Utd tried to sign before beating in Treble season

Matt Stead

Manchester United tried to sign Gianluca Pagliuca shortly before beating his Inter Milan side in their Treble-winning season.

Manchester United had a transformative year in 1997, winning another Premier League title, enjoying a watershed Champions League moment and losing Eric Cantona to retirement.

Peter Schmeichel was almost ever-present in the 1996/97 season, making more appearances than any other player aside from Cantona, and had been a guaranteed starter since he signed in 1991.

But Pagliuca, whose Inter Milan side were beaten by Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the 1998/99 Champions League, suggests that Alex Ferguson once targeted him.

“In 1997, when I returned to the national team, Manchester United asked about me,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It’s not that I said no, it was Moratti saying: ‘Pagliuca doesn’t move’.”

Schmeichel aside, Manchester United did not have the greatest luck with signing goalkeepers during the 1990s.

Massimo Taibi and Mark Bosnich failed to make the position their own, while Argentina legend Carlos Roa rejected a move to Old Trafford altogether because he thought the world was going to end.

Pagliuca also claimed that Aston Villa tried to sign him two years after the approach from Manchester United, but Inter again stood firm.

“Then in 1999, Aston Villa came for me, but also Deportivo la Coruna in Spain, who then won La Liga. I have no regrets,” he said.

Pagliuca did leave that summer, joining Bologna a year after heading into the 1998 World Cup as Italy’s first-choice keeper.

The Serie A legend retired in 2007 after one season at Ascoli, and was only recently usurped by Gianluigi Buffon as the goalkeeper with the most appearances in Italy’s top flight.

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