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‘I only joined Liverpool because Premier League rivals Man Utd turned down transfer’

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It’s an unwritten rule that the route from Liverpool to Manchester United is one divide players shouldn’t bridge, but one former Premier League star felt he was left with little choice

The list of players who have transferred directly between Liverpool and Manchester United is a relatively short one – and for good reason.

The rivalry between the two clubs has raged since the Industrial Revolution, and it’s a brave man or woman who would make such a switch even today. Former England midfielder Paul Ince was well aware of the tensions between the two when he pulled on both strips during the 1990s, which were separated by a two-year stint at Inter Milan.

Ince, 56, spent six seasons at Old Trafford before leaving for Italy in 1995, but it was only a couple of years later than he found himself back in red at Anfield. But the West Ham youth product has revealed he might have shunned the Merseysiders for a return to the Theatre of Dreams – had the Red Devils only shown more interest in a reunion.

“When I left to go to Inter Milan, I didn’t want to leave Manchester United,” Ince told talkSPORT. “When I came back from Inter Milan, Man United had first refusal on me. I could have easily gone back to Manchester United – they turned down that decision to take me back.

“Whether I would have gone back I don’t know, but all I know is I had two years at Inter, another three years left on my contract, obviously the family situation was difficult so we came back.”

His time at Liverpool was nowhere near as successful as his time with United, where he won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. Ince failed to lift a trophy in his two seasons at Anfield and left for Middlesbrough in 1999 after falling out with manager Gerard Houllier.

Despite any indifference fans of Liverpool or United may feel regarding his loyalties, there is one line Ince was always unwilling to cross. Phil Chisnall was the last player to transfer directly between the two clubs in 1964, and that’s one streak he’s adamant he would never have broken.

“I have always kind of felt – and I have said this time and time again – it is no disrespect to both teams but I’d have never have gone to Liverpool straight from Manchester United or from Liverpool straight to Manchester United,” he added. “That is a cardinal sin.”

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