Sir Alex Ferguson “rejected the chance to sign Zinedine Zidane” because he preferred Eric Cantona in his position at Manchester United, according to former chairman Martin Edwards.
According to former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards, Ferguson was made aware of the young Frenchman during the mid-1990s, when Zidane was still with Bordeaux.
However, he opted not to chase the signature of the 22-year-old who shortly afterwards spent five years at Juventus before joining Real Madrid in 2001.
Edwards, 72, told the Manchester United website: “When Zidane was at Bordeaux, Les Kershaw, the chief scout, was telling me we should be interested in him and I mentioned it to Alex.
“Alex said that Eric [Cantona] had also mentioned Zidane to him but Alex felt Zidane played in the same position as Eric.
“Having gone over to France to persuade Eric to re-sign for us, after the Crystal Palace incident [when Cantona was banned for eight months after clashing with a football fan at Selhurst Park in 1995], he felt that, if he had brought Zidane in, it may have affected Eric’s position, so he stuck with Eric.”
Edwards also said United had their eye on four England stars – John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer – but failed to sign any of them.
Edwards, the United chairman between 1980 and 2002, added: “Paul Gascoigne (Newcastle) was certainly one.
“We thought he was coming but he decided to join Tottenham. I think there were certain last-minute inducements involved.
“I’d done the negotiations for Alan Shearer and again, I thought he was coming. But Jack Walker (Blackburn owner) was very adamant he wasn’t coming to Manchester United.
“It was a case of ‘over my dead body’ but he allowed him to go to Newcastle.
“Gary Lineker (Leicester), as you know, was going to sign for Everton and his agent Jon Holmes rang me on the day and said: ‘We’re about to go on the train to sign for Everton but his first choice would be Manchester United, if you want him to come.’
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“I put it to Ron (Atkinson, manager 1981-86) and he said: ‘I’ve got four strikers already. The last thing we need is another striker.’ So we passed on that one.
“With John Barnes (Watford), Graham Taylor rang Alex Ferguson to see if he wanted to take him before he signed for Liverpool.
“Alex passed on him because it was his first season (as manager), he had Jesper Olsen in his squad and he wanted to see whether Jesper would make it.”