Almost every club has a tale of when they ‘almost’ signed a world-class superstar, either before they’d made it big or during the latter stages of their career.
Some tales are quite hard to believe, but when you hear them from the horse’s mouth, like managers discussing players they almost signed while at certain clubs, you can’t not believe them.
In an alternative universe, West Ham could’ve signed Neymar or Lionel Messi may have been scoring hundreds of goals for Arsenal instead of Barcelona – it’s almost impossible to get your head around.
Recently we’ve learned of Leeds’ attempts to sign Erling Haaland from Molde, obviously before he became one of the most lethal strikers in world football. So we’ve gone through the archives and looked at some of the biggest and most shocking transfers that never actually happened in football.
Some of these signings could’ve led the footballing universe we all know down a very different path…
The Brazilian superstar is said to have almost joined Manchester City following the club’s 2009 takeover.
Despite a £108m offer on the table, Kaka opted to sign for AC Milan instead.
Before Sir Alex Ferguson brought the superstar to Old Trafford it is believed the Portuguese goal machine had conversations with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Would his career have panned out the way he did if he had started his Premier League career with the Gunners instead?
Way back in 1978, the Blades tried their hardest to bring the Argentine genius to Bramall Lane.
However, they were unable to afford his £200k asking price and instead they signed one of his teammates to help soften the disappointment.
Almost everyone already knows about this but it’s worth revisting.
Liverpool-born and club-captain, Gerrard had just led the Reds to that incredible comeback in Istanbul – one of the most magical moments in football history.
But behind all that, he was having his head turned by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and he even handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move through.
Obviously it never happened but you wonder what he might have gone on to achieve in the domestic game if he had signed for Chelsea.
This is another well known failed transfer, but it’s worth revisiting just bcause of sheer hard luck for Blackburn.
Rovers were on the verge of securing the Poland legend’s signature from Lech Poznan in 2010, but a volcanic ash cloud prevented the striker from travelling to England to finalise talks and he instead signed for Borussia Dortmund.
The rest is history where both parties are concerned.
West Ham have always had a bit of a reputation of showing false ambition on the transfer window. Remember when they publically said they wanted to sign Alexandre Lacazette and Michy Batshuayi in the same summer window?
Well, back in 1994 they did actually come close to signing legendary Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko but, after a short trial, manager Harry Redknapp decided he wasn’t good enough!
“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions” is the famous line the Swede gave when talking about the time he almost signed for the Gunners.
Wenger wanted the striker to go on trial before signing a contract and being given the number nine shirt. Zlatan naturally refused and signed for Ajax a year later.
Brazil legend Rivaldo had been on Sam Allardyce’s Bolton radar back in 2004 but after initially showing an interest in playing in the Premier League, he decided against it and signed for Olympiakos instead.
The Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer came very close to signing for Manchester United twice, even meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson at his home.
Despite all that, the England striker opted to sign for Blackburn and then Newcastle.
Imagine how many more goals he would’ve scored at United!?
The Dutch legend had actually been on trial with Ipswich under Sir Bobby Robson back in 1980 but the great manager decided against signing him.
He eventually joined Feyenoord before finally arriving in England when joining Chelsea.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and that’s what Burnley will be telling themselves now after deciding against signing a 17-year-old Esien back in 1999 because they wouldn’t agree to his £60-a-week (sixty pounds sterling) apprentice wage!
Gary Lineker had spent three years at Barcelona before returning to England with Tottenham, but had that White Hart Lane switch fallen through, Man United were actually waiting in the wings to bring him to Old Trafford!
Luis Figo had an offer on the table from Newcastle United in 2005, prior to completing his move to Real Madrid.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, they were unable to meet his ludicrous wage demands!
In 2006, Gareth Southgate was offered the chance to sign Nani for Middlesbrough in a deal worth in the region of £3.5m.
Southgate didn’t fancy it and a year later Nani rocked up at Manchester United instead.
Another one for West Ham fans – Gianfranco Zolo was looking to make a marquee signing for the Hammers during his first journey into management and wanted to sign Cavani on loan in 2008.
A deadline day move fell through and the Uruguayan striker went on to become of the deadliest strikers in world football with Napoli and PSG.
One day the Hammers might actually get one of these deals over the line. Legally, of course.
Yet another well-known tale.
Manchester City swooped in and stole the Brazilian’s signature from Chelsea’s grasp just hours after being taken over on Deadline Day in 2009.
Rumour has it Robinho had still thought he was signing for Chelsea, only to find out he’d actually signed for City minutes before his unveiling.
It’s hard to believe Barcelona would have ever considered allowing Messi to leave, but Wenger recently revealed that the world’s greatest ever player was actually involved in the talks when the Gunners signed Cesc Fabregas back in 2003.