”Right towards the end of my time at United we were pursuing Lucas Moura, the immensely talented right winger who, at the time, was playing in his native Brazil for Sao Paulo,” Alex Ferguson revealed in his book ‘Leading’.
“We offered £24m for him, which was upped to £30m and again to £35m, but Paris Saint-Germain signed him for £45m.
“David Gill and I were just not prepared to go to those sorts of levels.”
The decision not to go to those sort of levels didn’t look a meaningful one when made in 2012, as Manchester United went on to win yet another Premier League title.
However, on Monday night, Lucas Moura looked like the player that set Sao Paulo alight as a flamboyant young phenomenon, reducing Old Trafford to a monotonous cauldron of vacancy.
Had Moura ended up with the Red Devils instead of warming the Parc des Princes bench for five years, there is no theory that suggests he would’ve fulfilled his potential during the aftermath of uncertainty in the post-Ferguson era.
A move to either club, in hindsight, may not have allowed him to fulfil the star potential that was once associated with a 13-year-old who left home to realise his footballing ambitions.
An adolescent Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva honed his talents amid a Sao Paulo training ground surrounded by gangs, crime and wrongdoing, with only God by his side in the absence of his family.
It is God who Lucas devotes his achievements to, no matter how seismic they may be. His first Premier League goal against Fulham was instantly accredited to a holier influence via a point to the sky; this is a humble, awake player who has never let a failed £45m transfer as a 19-year-old knock his desire.
A cushy financial life on the PSG bench in the French capital, where he resided for over five years, would’ve been easy to grow accustomed to having grown up in a poverty-stricken area during his formative years in Brazil.
He could be forgiven for simply hoovering up as much cash as possible to allow his family to live the life he did not. But Lucas didn’t leave his home, his family, his life as he knew it to pursue money. He wanted footballing stardom, motivated by those Selecao stars from years gone by such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Romario.
So, when Tottenham came calling, Lucas jumped at the chance. The 25-year-old could have been also been forgiven for being influenced by preconceptions from within the Parisian’s camp regarding the north London club, with Angel Di Maria potentially the main instigator given his past quotes.
Di Maria was quoted in a 2014 interview with Spanish newspaper Marca (via The Independent): “It hurts when you’re always doing your best for your club and then you hear that you might be going to Tottenham,” a quote which perhaps shows that the superstars of the game didn’t take Spurs seriously.
Putting preconceived doubts regarding the club aside, however, Lucas realised the opportunity that lay before him.
The chance to play for one of Europe’s most influential coaches in Mauricio Pochettino, a man who has summoned world class showings out of the likes of Harry Kane, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies when selling them would have been easier at the time; Lucas knew he could develop at Spurs.
Man United fans getting a pic with Lucas Moura is a bit like coming home to find your girlfriend in bed with another bloke & asking him for a selfie pic.twitter.com/3EYqhtCqsW
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) August 28, 2018
£25m exchanged hands, and Lucas had swapped Paris for London in the January transfer window with little furore over the signing.
Amazingly, when considering their previous statuses where Spurs would’ve once done anything to bring a player of that calibre to the club, the shoe was now on the other foot.
Pochettino’s Tottenham could now boast vast attacking riches, and Lucas’ place in the team was to be hotly contested by the likes of Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-min Son.
Just five starts in all competitions followed Lucas’ move. Some wrote him off as a ‘panic buy’, seemingly made merely to appease the transfer-hungry Spurs fans.
Some dubbed him the ‘Brazilian Theo Walcott’, for his notable pace but faltering end product that looked akin to the Everton forward’s style of play.
“I don’t know how to explain. You can only feel it if you manage to do it. Facing Manchester United, at Old Trafford, to score to goals and to win!” pic.twitter.com/mPxEpNRX0C
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) August 28, 2018
His career looked to be fizzling out into oblivion, with the large chunk of cash thrown to PSG for his services not looking wasted as such, but not to have had the desired effect.
Having said that, most of us are aware of the difficulties a player faces when arriving in a new league in January without a pre-season under his belt to acclimatise with his new teammates.
As the old saying goes, however, ‘one man’s loss is another man’s gain.’ So, when Heung-min Son departed for the Asian Games, where failure to win would see him serve a career-threatening spell of military service for South Korea, Lucas had a chance.
Whether it was down to his highly accredited powers above, Pochettino, or just sheer desire to make something of himself in the game, Lucas took his opportunity with both hands.
His goal against Fulham on Premier League matchday two was impressively well taken and opened his account in England’s top flight.
However, it was the following week’s exploits at Old Trafford that have led many to believe that the former wonderkid is finally fulfilling his talents.
Hard work always prospers over talent when talent doesn’t work hard; at 25 years of age, Lucas Moura may finally be realising as much…