Arsenal and Chelsea were keen on Powell, claims Man United boss Sir Alex
Sir Alex Ferguson says Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were all keen to sign Manchester United's Nick Powell this summer
Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Manchester United were forced to act quickly to sign Nick Powell amid interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City earlier this summer.
The 18-year-old joined United from Crewe Alexandra on 1 July after scoring 14 goals in 38 appearances for Dario Gradi’s side in League Two last season.
The Red Devils manager admitted the 19-time English champions had been aware of the highly-rated Crewe star for a number of years before Ferguson instructed his assistant Mike Phelan to scout the England Under-18 international more closely in February.
Powell’s spectacular strike in the League Two play-off final showcased the attacking midfielder’s abilities, prompting interest from a number of Premier League clubs – and Ferguson said United moved fast to tie up a deal.
“We sent people to see him a few times after he started scoring a few goals,” Ferguson told United’s website. “He actually first came on our radar a few years ago when he played against our youth team.
“But we watched him seriously from February. Mike Phelan went to see him a few times and so did our chief scout, Jim Lawlor. My brother Martin also went to see him against Torquay before I went for myself, with Mike, when Crewe played Aldershot.”
He added: “We were thinking things over. We’d seen a few other Premier League clubs there at the game – Everton, somebody from Arsenal, somebody from Chelsea – they were very keen on Nick – so we thought it was best to set the wheels in motion.
“In these situations, I always think about the time we signed Lee Sharpe. We went to watch him and we were impressed. The dilemma was this: do we go home and think things over or do we make a decision and act swiftly?
“With Lee we moved quickly – I remember we drove a few Torquay directors down to the beach and wouldn’t let them out of the car until we’d agreed a deal – and it paid off.
“Anyway, when Mick and I went to watch Nick Powell we came away and I said: ‘He’s definitely a player. There’s no doubt about that.
“We thought that if we waited until the play-offs the secret would be out, so to speak. All the TV cameras would be focussed on him and it might alert a few other clubs.
“Mind you, there were already quite a few interested. As well as Arsenal and Chelsea, we knew Manchester City were keeping tabs on him as well.
“So I phoned [Crewe director of football] Dario Gradi, told him we were keen and we started negotiating. We sorted the deal with the chairman and agreed we’d leave it until after the play-off finals.
“It was all in place a good 10 days beforehand. Nick’s agent told Nick after the match and then he came up to my house the next day and we got the deal done.”