“We all said ‘yes’ straight away.”
In January 2004, Manchester United signed French striker Louis Saha for £13.8 million from fellow Premier League club Fulham. Gary Neville has revealed that the striker was the only player Alex Ferguson asked the squad if he should bring to the club, following a game against Fulham in the FA Cup.
The French forward had impressed in his three and a half-season with the Cottagers and before heading to Old Trafford he had bagged 13 goals in 21 games in the 2003/2004 season.
Saha at Man United.
Saha would go on to spend five seasons at Manchester United, scoring 42 goals in 124 games, winning two Premier League titles as well as the Champions League in the 2007/2008 season.
Despite Saha never playing more than 25 league games a season at United due to persistent injury issues, his time there was still largely a success and he became known for scoring important goals under Ferguson.
The former United boss had long been an admirer of Saha as it turns out.
“Sir Alex never asked us which players we should sign or never asked us information about players he was going to sign,” Neville said on Sky Sports News in 2020.
“But after we played Fulham one time in the FA Cup (in 2001), he actually asked us as defenders, would we sign Louis Saha?
“We all said ‘yes’ straight away.
“I remember the season where he was playing up front with Wazza (Wayne Rooney) in 2006 and it was unbelievable; they were fantastic together.
“Louis was a brilliant, brilliant player. He gave me absolute nightmares when I used to play against him when he played for Fulham – him and Luis Boa Morte.”
Ferguson spoke of that particular game Neville was referring to in his autobiography and also mentioned that he had been a player the club had watched during Saha’s time in his native France.
“Louis Saha was another major signing, from Fulham in January 2004, but persistent injuries counted against him, and us. We watched him a couple of times at Metz but the scouting reports gave no indication that he would be a target for the biggest clubs.
“He turned up at Fulham, and every time he played against us he gave us a ‘doing’.
“In an FA Cup tie at Craven Cottage, he turned Wes Brown on the halfway line, flew at our goal, cut it back and Fulham scored. From then on we watched him all the time, and by January were ready to make our move.”
(Originally published on April 17, 2020).