Football News

When Rivaldo nearly joined Man Utd: Ex-Brazil striker feels he could have been their Firmino

By Harry Edwards

Published: 12:54, 7 September 2019

Brazilian legend Rivaldo believes he could have had a similar impact on the Premier League as Roberto Firmino.

Firmino made history last weekend by scoring in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Burnley, becoming the first Brazilian player to reach 50 goals in the Premier League.

When did Rivaldo nearly join Manchester United? Five things to know…

  • Rivaldo was the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner and an inductee of the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.
  • He joined Barcelona from Deportivo de La Coruna in 1997.
  • A year before Rivaldo won the 2002 World Cup, Barcelona claimed Manchester United bid £22m for him.
  • United denied it, but Rivaldo said he was “flattered” by the links and listed them as one of only three clubs he would consider joining.
  • Rivaldo stayed for another year, finishing up with 86 goals in 157 league games for Barcelona, before moving to AC Milan.

Firmino, 27, joined Liverpool from Hoffenheim in 2015. With each passing season his influence has grown, mainly thanks to Jurgen Klopp’s use of the forward.

And Firmino’s record has been hailed by Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo, who also tipped the Liverpool man to be a starting forward to Brazil at the next World Cup.

“Roberto Firmino has become the first Brazilian player to reach 50 goals on Premier League and I must congratulate him for that achievement,” Rivaldo told Betfair.

“He is a player of great personality, with a particular taste for scoring goals and also very clever on his movements near the opposite goal.

“He didn’t play in the starting 11 at the last World Cup but looks like he will have a good chance of starring for his country in 2022 because he is a top forward.”

However, Rivaldo, who represented the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan in his club career, believes he could have been the first Brazilian to reach 50 Premier League goals had he decided on a move to Manchester United when linked.

He added: “Perhaps if I had signed for Manchester United when I had the opportunity, I could have achieved something similar to what Firmino is doing at Liverpool.

“Of course, it would depend on the time spent there. But I did shape my style from a creative player, who only assisted others, into someone who could also score regularly[?].

“In five seasons with Barcelona I scored 130 goals, so why couldn’t I have scored 50 or so in England? I think it would have been possible after four or five seasons there.”

Sir Alex Ferguson publicly confirmed interest in Rivaldo in 2001 while answering a fan’s question emailed in to United’s official website, but while doing so he stated “there has never been an occasion when Barcelona have been prepared to sell.”

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Who are the Premier League’s top-scoring Brazilians?

Last season saw Firmino become the Premier League’s all-time top-scoring Brazilian, with 12 goals seeing him overtake former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho, who remains on 41.

On 48 going into the new campaign, it was always expected that Firmino would become the first Brazilian to reach 50 Premier League goals, with the Liverpool man doing so in just four games. He hit the mark in 141 top-flight games.

After Coutinho comes former Middlesbrough midfielder Juninho, who scored 29 goals, while Chelsea’s Willian and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City are tied in fourth with 28.