So James Milner finally makes his move to Manchester City and brings with it the end to one of the longest transfer sagas of this summer. In homage, we recall some of the biggest sagas in recent memory.
James Milner to Man City (2010) There was nowhere else to start other than the England midfielder, as his £24m move to Eastlands was finally completed. The move probably also played a factor in the departure of Villa boss Martin O’Neill, as he tried to keep a hold onto Milner; when O’Neill resigned, Milner was free to complete his move. O’Neill’s desire for him to stay, disagreement over the fee and Stephen Ireland’s role as a makeweight all helped to draw the deal out over the entire summer. Still, it all gave Milner the chance to say goodbye to his fans with a goal and standing ovation at Villa Park on the first day of this season.
Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona (2009, 10, 11?) Another season at Arsenal without a trophy and another tournament with his Spanish teammates ending in success all looked to be contributing to a move to his hometown club. His role on the bench behind Xavi, Inestia, Busquets and Pedro may have been an indication of what life in the Nou Camp could have been like, or it may just be that he is still in love with Arsenal. Whatever the reason, Fabregas has spent a second summer turning Guardiola’s advances down (along with every other Catalan). What money on Barcelona trying their luck next summer?
Dimitar Berbatov to Man Utd (2008) The last few minutes of 2008’s summer transfer window saw the Bulgarian finally complete his move. Spurs were ready to report United to the FA for illegally chasing their player and compiled a dossier of a year’s worth of evidence to present to the Premier League. The move was further complicated by interest from the then newly-rich Man City, who agreed a fee with Spurs at the last minute on deadline day, only for Berbatov himself to refuse to speak to City due to their lack of Champions League football.
Gareth Barry to Liverpool (2008) Rafa Benitez’s master plan was to forge a side made up of Gerrard, Barry, Robbie Keane and Torres: Benitez stated that Robbie Keane’s unsuccessful spell at the club was down to the fact that Barry wasn’t there also. Villa were holding out for around £18m but Liverpool wanted something closer to £12m, and thus a stalemate ran the entire length of the summer, with Gareth Barry publicly stating he wanted to go. O’Neill and Benitez’s relationship with each other was sour at the best of times, and the following summer the country was ready for the story to end. Barry had other ideas however, and plumped for Man City within a week of the end of the 08/09 season.
Patrick Vieira to Real Madrid/Juventus (2002, 03, 04, 05) There was a time when as sure as fans were that the season would end, they were as certain that Vieira would mute a move to a European giant. For three years it looked as though Real Madrid would be his destination, but problems over the agreed fee, as well as Vieira’s wage demands, meant that Vieira’s Arsenal career continued to run. The Frenchman was after Champions League success and didn’t believe he could achieve it with Arsenal. In 2005, he eventually plumped for a move to Turin, which brought him illegal league titles, but still no coveted Champions League trophy.
Xabi Alonso to Juventus/Real Madrid (2008, 09) The flip side of the Gareth Barry deal. Whether Rafa wanted both players in the same team, or one for the other is only really know to Benitez himself, but Alonso felt compromised with the lack of conviction over his position at the club. Juventus looked the most likely destination, and his move there, with Barry to Anfield, looked like a done deal, but neither happened and Alonso stayed to continue to play great football for Liverpool. Without the backing of his boss, Alonso still wanted to move on and joined the most expensively assembled team ever at Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid (2008, 09) And speaking of Real Madrid, none were more expensive than the £80m spent on Ronaldo. Ever since ‘the wink’ in the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo’s time looked up at Man Utd, but Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t about to let that keep him from getting the best out of Ronaldo for a further three seasons. Ronaldo never hid his desire to head to Real, and equally the club were vocal in their pursuit of him. It looked as though he would go in 2008, but the saga rumbled on for another year. In the end, United could not refuse such a big offer for their player and Ronaldo got his wish. His comments during the protracted deal about being ‘a modern-day slave’ did himself no favours.
Frank Ribery to Real/Barca/Man Utd/Chelsea (2008, 09) Not being in La Liga or the Premier League means that Ribery is a constant column filler in the sports gossip sections. Moves to England were muted in 2008, with Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge realistic destinations, but the Spanish duo were always a thorn in any potential deals. The following summer, the same candidates again were being linked and Ribery looked destined to leave Germany. As Real bought the best player from each of the PL, Serie A and Ligue 1, they looked as though they’d take the Bundesliga’s most high profile also. Ribery told the press:
“I have made up my mind – I want to leave. It’s Real or nothing.”
So nothing then. Ribery signed a new contract with Bayern last May.
David Villa to Barca/Real/Liverpool/Chelsea (2008, 09, 10) And maybe a whole host of other clubs? Villa’s unquestionable talent, along with his club’s horrific debt meant that each summer Villa, along with David Silva, looked as though they’d have to be sold to balance the books. Somehow Valencia managed to stave off having to sell their prized assets for a couple of years. How many concrete offers Valencia received is unsure, but Villa’s preference was always to stay in Spain. Just as it looked as though he was willing to give England a chance, Barcelona made their move and completed a deal for just over £30m. Villa, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi in the same team – Europe watch out.
Loic Remy to half of Europe (2010) Not the biggest name in the list, but I almost want to buy this previously anonymous French striker for myself just so I don’t have to hear another story about him. Stoke, West Ham, Liverpool, Everton, Spurs, Arsenal and other clubs across the continent have been linked to the Nice striker. Every day brings another club into connection with Remy, although none look as though they are actually that interested. Come the passing of the transfer window, he may well still be at Nice.
Who else has taken their time over a transfer – completed or not? Dani Alves to Chelsea perhaps? Steven Gerrard’s supposed moves to Real Madrid or Chelsea? Let us know some others.
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