In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Dello Sport, the Scot said he was
deterred from making a formal offer for Maldini by the AC Milan legend's father.
"I once asked Maldini's father Cesare about him," Ferguson said.
"He looked at me as if I was a madman and that response was enough to understand that the answer would be no."
Maldini is one of football's greatest ever defenders having made over 900 appearances during a 25 year spell with the Rossoneri. He is also currently Italy's most capped player.
In the same interview, the Scot was also asked about his opinion on former Chelsea striker Gianfranco Zola, who remains a very popular figure in England.
"I also loved Gianfranco Zola a lot," Ferguson said.
"He always played with a smile and with the right sporting spirit."
Ferguson also had words of advice for Roma legend Francesco Totti, whose future at the club is under question.
"Totti is the symbol of Roma, he'd never want to leave the club just like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at United," he said.
"Totti needs to be kept at a certain level for Roma, just as I do at United. I may not let Giggs play every week but he's always there. It could be the same for Totti."