Gabriel Batistuta: 'I Would Have Got Bored' at Real Madrid or Manchester United

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2019

** FILE ** Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta celebrates a goal during a game in Buenos Aires, Argentina July 9, 2003 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World Cup won in 1978. Plagued by knee injuries, he released a statement Sunday March 13, 2005 saying he is retiring, a day after ending his contract prematurely with Al-Arabi, where he moved in 2003.  Batistuta, who retired from Argentina's national team three years ago, played on World Cup teams in 1994, '98, and 2002. He also led Argentina to Copa America titles in 1991 and '93. (AP Photo/Daniel Luna) ** EFE OUT **
DANIEL LUNA/Associated Press

Argentinian icon Gabriel Batistuta has said he turned down the advances of Real Madrid and Manchester United during his playing career because he would have become "bored" as a star player.

Speaking to the American Business Forum, the 50-year-old said he "would have scored more than 200 goals" if he had joined Los Blancos, but Batistuta preferred the "tranquillity" of life in Italy with Fiorentina (h/t Chris Burton of Goal):

"I never enjoyed being the star-man because as soon as you become the focal point of the team, you assume an extra burden of responsibility. I received many offers namely from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Milan, but I preferred the tranquillity of playing for Fiorentina. If I had gone to Madrid, I would have scored more than 200 goals, but I knew I would have got bored. The same thing would have happened to me at Milan. Although I have never won a major trophy, I consider myself a winner because I helped Fiorentina to compete with the big boys."

Batistuta was considered one of the most dangerous strikers during his career in Europe after periods with River Plate and Boca Juniors. He scored 245 goals for his clubs and 54 times for his country. 

The Argentina international transferred to Fiorentina in 1991 and stayed with the modest club for nine seasons despite his world-class ability.

Batistuta remained in Serie A for spells with Roma and Inter Milan, spending the final two years of his career with Al-Arabi in Qatar.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA:  Argentine soccer star Gabriel Batistuta celebrates scoring the first goal against Chile 29 March, 2000, at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires in their World Cup 2002 elimination match. Batistuta's teammates Cristian Gonzalez (L)

The forward won Serie B and the Coppa Italia in Florence and finally captured the Serie A crown as a member of Roma's title-winning squad in 2000-01.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a known admirer of the Argentinian, and Batistuta previously told the Observer in 2000 he was interested in a move to United (h/t Will Buckley of the Guardian).

"If I ever leave Fiorentina I would very much like to go to Manchester United because out of the three best teams in Europe - United, Lazio and Barcelona - Manchester, in my opinion, is the best. [...]

"In my heart, it is possible that I would like to have an experience in England. I will wait for the right moment. I would like to give my upmost for the Florentines and then leave."

The striker never made it to the Premier League, but he will be long remembered as one of the great predatory talents of his generation.

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium or Old Trafford would have been perfect stages for Batistuta, but his happiness in Italy superseded his desire to win major honours.