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Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of Manchester United‘s record of signing African players and expressed frustration that they haven‘t been more successful in the market for stars from that continent.

"I wish we could sign more African players, but somehow we don't seem to capture the ones we want to get," he was quoted as saying in The Vanguard.

And he spoke specifically of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, revealing:

"Essien was with us at 16 years of age, and Muntari. But we couldn't get work permits for them.

"Then they both went back to Ghana, and then Essien went to Bastia as a centre-half. He came to us as a centre-half way back then. And Lyon signed him as a centre-half and then made him a midfield player.

"Then Chelsea came for him and the price they were prepared to pay for him, we couldn't agree that kind of price."

Ferguson also discussed United's notorious failure to land Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel.

"There was also the situation with John Obi Mikel, who we fought hard to have but who chose to go to Chelsea in the end. And there was nothing we could do about that. So there's been cases where we have tried to get African players in the past and we've failed."

Ferguson added: "But we have a scout now in Ghana and we are trying to develop that part," he added.

"It's not easy because it's such a big continent. We also now have a scouting network in Angola and within a few weeks of that, they recommended Manucho. It is tough but we'll keep looking for the best players from all over the world, including Africa".
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