Gareth Bale could now be a Manchester United player had Southampton agreed to open up a channel of communication with the Premier League champions six years ago.
The Wales international was regarded as one of the hottest properties in English football as he was learning his trade at St Mary’s, and he was being watched by a number of top clubs. It was Tottenham Hotspur who won the race for his signature in January 2007, when they paid an eventual £7million to lure him to White Hart Lane.
After making a slow start to life in the capital Bale has developed superbly over the past three years, having been converted from a left fullback to a winger, whilst this season he has been given even more freedom in attack. This has seen him win the two PFA Player of the Year awards and, last week, the Football Writers’ Player of the Year.
As they push for a top-four finish Spurs are confident of keeping hold of the 23-year-old, despite reported interest from the two Manchester clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. But were it not for Southampton’s reluctance to discuss a potential move to Old Trafford six years ago, the forward could already be lining up for United.
“We were disappointed in Southampton at the time because we were first there, but they never came back to us,” Ferguson told The Telegraph. “It was not the boy who turned us down, it was Southampton, then a few weeks later he signed for Tottenham Hotspur.
“He (Bale) was a left-back when we tried to sign him. It wasn’t until Harry (Redknapp) went to Tottenham that he converted him into a wide left player. He reminds me a bit of when we signed Lee Sharpe. He was a six foot, gangly, slim boy, but all of a sudden. He was built like a light heavyweight boxer. Bale is the same in the way he has developed.”