Top 10 transfers that never were

ESPN FC writer Nick Miller examines the top 10 transfers that never quite happened. TKTG narrows it down to the ones that really matter….

10 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Arsenal



Arsenal seem to crop up quite often in regards to nearly signing players, from quibbling over a fee in the region of £4 million for a young Cristiano Ronaldo, to missing out on Yaya Toure for passport-related reasons. However, you can’t really blame Arsenal for this one. In 2000 they invited a young Malmo striker for a trial, even having a shirt printed up for him, but eventually the Swedish youngster lost patience, declaring: “I am Zlatan, I don’t do auditions.” Ibrahimovic wrote in his autobiography: “I waited for (Arsene Wenger) to convince me that I should join Arsenal. But he didn’t even try.” Zlatan was 18 at the time.

9 – Gary McAllister to Nottingham Forest

8 – Ander Herrera to Manchester United

At the time of writing, we do of course not know the full details of this surreal saga, but what we do know is that late in the transfer window, Manchester United lodged a bid for the Athletic Bilbao midfielder and haggled over the price of his release clause. Then reports emerged that three lawyers arrived at the offices of the Spanish FA to seal the deal, claiming to represent United. The club deny these men had anything to do with them. So were they hucksters, trying to get a piece of the deal, or just over-enthusiastic lawyers acting before they should? Perhaps one day we’ll know…

7 – Faustino Asprilla to Darlington

6 – Zinedine Zidane to Newcastle



Most people will know the story about Zidane nearly signing for Blackburn in 1995, Jack Walker infamously telling Kenny Dalglish: “Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?” However, perhaps lesser-known is that the following year, Newcastle turned down a £1.2 million deal for the Frenchman, according to agent Barry Silkman, on the basis that he ‘wasn’t good enough for the First Division’ (now the Championship). Two years later he won the World Cup, and three years after that Real Madrid bought him for £48millio

5 – Eric Cantona to Sheffield Wednesday

4 – Ronaldinho to Manchester United

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea v Barcelona

When Ronaldinho basically went on strike at PSG in 2003, United and Barcelona were the two clubs duking it out for his services. “We are just about there but we don’t know for sure. We are very close,” said Sir Alex Ferguson about a proposed £20 million move. Not close enough, it seems, as the Brazilian signed for Barca shortly afterwards. “If Manchester United had signed me they would have won more European Cups,” Ronaldinho said this year, and it’s tough to argue. Still, United signed Cristiano Ronaldo instead, so it didn’t work out too badly.

3 – Roy Keane to Blackburn



After Nottingham Forest’s relegation in 1993, Blackburn verbally agreed to sign Keane, but upon hearing the midfielder was yet to sign a contract, Alex Ferguson swooped, charmed his man and persuaded him to cancel the deal. Rovers manager Kenny Dalglish didn’t take it at all well, promising that Keane wouldn’t “get away with this” and that “Blackburn Rovers will sue you for every penny you’ve got.”

2 – Alfredo di Stefano to Barcelona

1 – Paul Gascoigne to Manchester United

Paul Gascoigne was playing for Spurs the last time they won at Chelsea

Sir Alex Ferguson would cite a failure to sign Gascoigne in 1988 as one of the biggest regrets of his career, and one suspects it had as much to do with what Gascoigne could have become as a lost opportunity for United. Perhaps Ferguson could have been a calming influence on Gazza – we’ll never know. Ferguson recalled: “We spoke to him the night before I went on holiday. He says ‘Go and enjoy yourself Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United’.” Of course he chose Spurs, who apparently bought his parents a house to sweeten the deal. An odd detail in an ultimately tragic career.

Source; ESPN Soccernet.

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