The oil tycoon tried to sign the former Manchester United and Sampdoria stars when he first arrived at San Siro in 1995 before making a move for the Roma captain in 2007
Massimo Moratti has revealed that he tried to sign Eric Cantona, Roberto Mancini and Francesco Totti during his time as Inter owner.
The oil tycoon served as Nerazzurri president for 18 years, between 1995 and 2013, during which time he acquired some of the biggest names in football.
However, Moratti missed out on a number of high-profile transfer targets, including Manchester United icon Cantona and former Sampdoria star and current Inter boss Mancini.
“The first idea that I had after buying the club was taking both Cantona and Mancini,” he told the Corriere della Sera.
“Then Cantona ended that in my presence in London with that Kung Fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan and he decided to stay in Manchester.
“Mancini, meanwhile, was considered non-transferable by Sampdoria.
“I actually tried to sign him twice. At the end of October 1996, it was a done deal.
“But then Enrico Mantovani explained to me that there would have been an uprising among the Sampdoria fans, so I pulled out.
“[Mancini and Cantona] would have been a fantastic partnership, though, one worth of Inter’s proud tradition.”
Moratti also still laments the fact that he was later unable to persuade Roma to part company with another iconic figure, Totti.
“I was in Rome with president Sensi in 2007 when we were closing in on a deal for Chivu and I put it out there: ‘If you want to throw in Totti, you just have to give me a number’.
“But he didn’t even give it a second thought. He replied, ‘No, Totti stays here. I will never sell him’.
“And he was right. Totti would have won a treble with us because he’s an extraordinary player: nasty on the field when you go up against him, but so nice before and after the game.”
Moratti did pull off a number of sensational signings during his time in charge at Appiano Gentile, though, and he rates legendary Brazil striker Ronaldo as his best piece of business.
“He was the best investment of my 18 years as president of Inter,” he said of the reported €22 million signing from Barcelona in the summer of 1997.
“He opened up our world. He was strong, unbeatable in terms of talent and speed.
“Plus, nobody thought that we could get him, given he was at Barcelona.”
Moratti admitted that signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Juventus in 2006 was nearly as big a coup for Inter.
“He was extraordinary gifts, but his biggest strength is that he helps you win. We won three Scudetti with him.”