Diego Forlan played the first game of the 2004-2005 season and then was sold rather mysteriously. Whilst he hadn’t set the world alight during his time with Manchester United, it was fairly odd for him to leave after the season began.
We had paid Independiente £7.5m for him just a month after selling Andy Cole to Blackburn for £8m, but then sold him on to Villarreal a couple of years later. As luck would have it, he was the top scorer in Europe in his first season, and another prime example of a player good enough for La Liga, but not the Premiership.
In the six seasons that have gone by since he left, Forlan have failed to score more than 20 goals just once, and has an average of 24 goals per season.
He is 31-years-old now but has been scoring for fun this season, in the league, in the Europa League, and now the World Cup.
“Diego was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said United coach Rene Meulensteen. “But we had some individual training with Diego, for months we worked hard. I told him, ‘what you learn here, you will take with you’. You are a player who adds something to every squad. He has developed fantastically, so complete – a top athlete. I really would welcome him back to Manchester United.”
Meulensteen said he sent Forlan a text message after he netted both goals in the victory over Fulham, reading: “Top class, if it’s up to me you will return to us.” Rene claims he replied: “I am ready for it.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has also been singing the praises of our former striker following his impressive performances at the World Cup.
“I sent Diego a text the other day. He has been just fantastic and we’re all proud of him,” he said. “There was never a problem with him at Old Trafford. It was just the combination of him and Ruud van Nistelrooy didn’t work. The boy had other issues.. his sister’s health in Spain. He always wanted to get to Spain at some point. The only criticism of ourselves was that we sold him too cheaply. He could have been a hero. He was a great lad and a magnificent professional.”
Interesting that Ferguson doesn’t mention/has forgotten the real reason why Forlan left, or at least, the reason the striker believes he was sold because of. Turns out his departure wasn’t so mysterious after all. Forlan reckons he went against the manager’s instructions over what size studs to wear in the opening game of the season against Chelsea and proceeded to slip in the box in front of goal. He rushed in at half time to change his studs, only to be caught by the boss, and never play for Manchester United again!
“We have a great team at Atletico and next season we will be aiming for a top-four finish,” he said. “I will never play in England again, but I still actually look back with fond memories at some moments.”
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