Jump directly to the content

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

DREAM TEAM

Your Sun

A News UK Company
TOP
YOU WERE SO CLOSE

Groundbreaking transfers that fell apart at the last minute

Kaka to Man City? Luis Figo to Liverpool? They were so close to completion only to fall through at the last minute.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when the transfer market is involved.

That South American striker you passed on for £500,000? Now worth £60million with two consecutive European Golden Boots to his name.

Did you know that Ronaldinho once came close to joining St Mirren?

11
Did you know that Ronaldinho once came close to joining St Mirren?

Every club gets it wrong from time to time.

But for the following clubs the finishing post was in sight. They just failed to see it over the line.

So here’s to the glorious failures, the near misses and the what-could-have-beens.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Arsenal (2000)

It’s the classic missed opportunity. Passed down from generation to generation of Arsenal fans.

Zlatan was all aboard the Arsenal bus, only for Wenger to insist on the relatively unknown striker trialling before signing for one of English football’s most successful clubs.

How dare he!

Zlatan was passing through London on the way to a Stone Roses gig

11
Zlatan was passing through London on the way to a Stone Roses gig

Gabriel Batistuta to Fulham (2002)

It’s not often that you get to write Fulham and Batistuta in the same sentence, unless you’re talking about him hitting a hat-trick against The Cottagers in a pre-season friendly.

However, back in 2002, Batigol’s agents came to Fulham, cap in hand, to propose a move to the capital.

But Jean Tigana rejected the man who’d scored 56 goals for Argentina, so Batistuta was forced to join Inter Milan instead. It’s a tough life.

You can tell the lad is gutted about not joining Fulham

11
You can tell the lad is gutted about not joining Fulham

Luis Figo to Liverpool (2005)

Figo had won everything there was to win at Real Madrid and was searching for a final chapter on which to end his career.

Liverpool made a concrete offer, but Figo was won over by Inter Milan, saying: “As soon as I arrived in Milan my mind was made up.”

He went on to win four consecutive league titles at Inter, so maybe it wasn’t a bad decision after all.

Inter’s kit is nicer than Liverpool’s, to be fair

11
Inter’s kit is nicer than Liverpool’s, to be fair

Dani Alves to Liverpool (2006)

Rafa Benitez was responsible for signing Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres during his time at Liverpool.

But one player he wasn’t able to get through the door was Dani Alves, who came close to moving to Merseyside in the summer of 2006.

Alves was keen on Liverpool. Benitez was keen on Alves. But a fee couldn’t be agreed, despite only being around £10m, and Liverpool had to make do with Alvaro Arbeloa instead.

A poor man’s Alvaro Arbeloa

11
A poor man’s Alvaro Arbeloa

Xabi Alonso to Arsenal (2008)

In the year 2008 nobody used sat navs. Instead they all used Xabi Alonso’s right boot because his passing accuracy was that good.

But Benitez’s insistence on signing Gareth Barry meant Alonso was available for £18m. Arsene Wenger slapped a bid in quicker than you can say ‘Barry’s been booked’.

Unfortunately Arsenal’s bid was £3m too short, and the midfield axis of Fabregas and Alonso never made it’s way to north London. #Wexit

That moment when your manager keeps on telling you you’re not as good as Gareth Barry

11
That moment when your manager keeps on telling you you’re not as good as Gareth Barry

Robinho to Chelsea (2008)

‘I’m happy to join Chelsea’. Robinho’s way of announcing himself to City fans was unorthodox, we’ll give him that.

The 24-year-old’s move to Stamford Bridge was such a formality that Chelsea had already started selling his shirt online.

Real Madrid, who had yet to finalise the small print, saw this as a massive two fingers up, and sold the Brazilian to City instead.

A collector’s item

11
A collector’s item

Kaka to Man City (2009)

Anyone who doubted City’s commitment to throwing money away like it was going out of fashion was silenced when The Citizens bid £91mil for Kaka in January 2009.

City also threw a reported £500,000-a-week contract Kaka’s way to try and tempt the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner to Manchester.

But it wasn’t enough. Despite spending ‘several hours’ trying to convince Kaka’s representatives all City’s delegations left Milan with was a custard pie.

What could have been hey, City fans

11
What could have been hey, City fans

Radamel Falcao & Edinson Cavani to Aston Villa (2009)

The Noughties were a weird time. Remember when two of South America’s biggest talents issued ‘come and get me’ pleas to Aston Villa?

Martin O’Neil heard those pleas and thought, ‘you know what, what can they offer that Emile Heskey can’t?’, before signing the England international.

Cue a glorious return of 14 goals in four years.

Not as good as Emile Heskey

11
Not as good as Emile Heskey

Robert Lewandowski to Blackburn (2010)

Nothing brings a look of disgust across Sam Allardyce’s face like the mention of ash clouds. Not even pints of wine.

Why? A pesky ash cloud was the only thing that stopped Allardyce bringing Lewandowski to the Premier League in 2010.

They signed Benjani on a free transfer instead. Almost worth it for that weird pointing celebration he did every time he scored.

The non-flying Polishman

11
The non-flying Polishman

Thiago Alcantara to Man United (2013)

David Moyes’s first act as the new boss at Old Trafford was to sign a midfielder capable of filling the creative void left by Paul Scholes.

He set about tempting Thiago to United, with the Spain international’s contract opening him up for a cut-price Barcelona exit.

He then set about crossing names off a list, as every attempted target ruled themselves out. Thiago. Cesc Fabregas. Ander Herrera. Marouane Fellaini. Got there in the end.

‘Hey look, that weird Scottish bloke is back in the crowd again’

11
‘Hey look, that weird Scottish bloke is back in the crowd again’

DREAM TEAM COMEDY: Post-Football Season Stress Disorder is affecting us all