Manchester United rejected chance to sign Alex Witsel years ago, claims ex-scout Ed van Stijn

Former scout Ed van Stijn has aired his frustration at Manchester United following their dismissal of his recommendation of Alex Witsel when he was a youth player.

Talking to Het Nieuwsblad, as quoted by voetbalnieuws, former Manchester United scout Ed van Stijn has revealed that he recommended Alex Witsel to the Red Devils at the age of 14.

The 70-year-old, who has famously tipped Memphis Depay as a better prospect than Cristiano Ronaldo, as quoted in the Express, told the Belgian publication that he had watched Witsel on numerous occasions for United, but saw his positive reports fall on deaf ears.

‘’Witsel used to catch my eyes in youth games when I saw him play for Srandard,’’ said Van Stijn. ‘’From the U14 to U17 I followed him closely, later from a distance, but every time I see him at work, I think ‘what a class act’.

‘’For years I tried to draw Manchester United attention to Witsel and insisted on his arrival. It was incomprehensible that it was never listened to, because he was already an exceptional talent.’’

The former scout’s recommendation that wasn’t followed up could well end up costing United big money if they are to bid for him this summer.

Earlier this week, The Mirror linked the Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder to Old Trafford and after signing for the Russian club in 2012 for a staggering £29million, as quoted in the Mirror report, the fee to sign the Belgian could potentially be higher than that still.

Would Witsel be a good signing for Louis van Gaal?

The interest in Witsel isn’t too much of a surprise considering how highly-rated he is and the role he plays in.

Witsel is a player that allows others more freedom going forward as he specialises in the defensive side of the game.

Van Gaal’s squad is rich in attacking midfielders, attack-minded wingers and experienced, proven forwards, so he could play a key role at the other end of the pitch.

The decision to overlook Van Stijn’s recommendation already looks like a mistake on United’s part, due to his success in Europe. However, if he signs for another English club and helps them lift the Premier League title – the decision not to listen to the experienced scout would look a lot worse.

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