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On This Day in 2002: Diego Forlan arrives in Manchester ahead of United move

Diego Forlan
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Diego Forlan arrived at Manchester Airport on this day in 2002 ahead of completing a move to Manchester United.

The Uruguayan forward had opted to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s Premier League champions from Argentinian side Independiente ahead of Middlesbrough.

Following his arrival at the airport, Forlan, then aged 22, said: “The offer was bigger for the club, for Independiente, and for me. I was going to go to Middlesbrough, but Manchester offered more.”

Forlan (right) was brought in by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (left) on a four-and-a-half year deal (Martin Rickett/PA).

Diego Forlan, right, was brought in by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (Martin Rickett/PA)

Boro’s manager at the time Steve McClaren thought he had pipped his old boss Ferguson to Forlan’s signature earlier that week when chief executive Keith Lamb flew to South America and agreed a fee with Independiente.

But Independiente cooled towards Middlesbrough when the Teessiders said they wanted to pay the fee in instalments.

Independiente wanted a one-off payment, and that opened the door for United, who had been tracking Forlan for weeks.

The transfer, for around £7million, was wrapped up a few days after Forlan flew in as he signed a four-and-a-half-year contract.

Forlan's United career saw him score 17 goals in 98 appearances for the club (Phil Noble/PA).

Forlan’s United career saw him score 17 goals in 98 appearances for the club (Phil Noble/PA)

He went on to score 17 goals in 98 appearances in all competitions for United before moving on to Villarreal in 2004.

While he had a difficult time with the Red Devils – which included not netting until his 27th appearance – he did register a brace in a 2-1 win at Liverpool in December 2002, and claimed league and FA Cup winners’ medal.