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Football News: And Finally... Failed Transfer Moves

And Finally... Failed Transfer Moves
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And Finally.....Failed Transfers


As the transfer window madness is in full swing right now, I thought it would be a good time to write about those transfers that fell through for various reasons. Such as Ed025's failed transfer to the Arsenal site, which collapsed when he realised Arsenal were no more likely to win trophies than his beloved Everton.

The obvious place to start, with Nabil Fekir being up for sale this summer from Olympique Lyonnais, is Fekir's failed transfer to Liverpool. Everything was agreed and done, just short of the announcement. Pictures in the strip, the now-obligatory video reveal, personal terms and price were all done and dusted, with just a medical to go. Unfortunately Liverpool did not like what they saw in the medical and tried to renegotiate the price with Lyon. As is their right, the French side were unhappy with that and refused to accept a reduced offer. Liverpool instead bought Xherdan Shaqiri, while Fekir went through a difficult season, clearly upset over the failed transfer.

Tottenham Hotspur were on the verge of signing Brazilian winger Willian from Anzhi Makachkala as part of their plan to replace Gareth Bale. He had even completed a medical when Roman Abramovich stepped in and spoke directly to Anzhi owner Suleyman Kerimov. The two oligarchs quickly agreed a deal and Willian moved to Chelsea instead, leaving Spurs furious.

The Premier League could have all been totally different if it was not for the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010. The ash cloud grounded all flights in and out of the UK just when Blackburn Rovers had agreed a deal to sign an unknown striker from Lech Posnan for £4m. The 21 year old Robert Lewandowski went on Borussia Dortmund instead, before joining Bayern Munich, while Blackburn Rovers, well they were taken over by chicken farmers and have never been the same since.

Though it is not the biggest deal Blackburn missed out on, which was a certain Zinedine Zidane straight after they had won the Premier League in 1994/95, when Zizou was just 23. While everyone at the club wanted him brought in to boost their strength for the following season's European campaign, owner Jack Walker was not so sure. He dismissed the idea with the immortal line: "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we've got Tim Sherwood?" Zidane's career never recovered and he disappeared into obscurity with Juventus.

Another Lancashire club that came close to signing a World Cup winner was Bolton Wanderers in 2004 who made a move for Rivaldo, when Sam Allardyce was enjoying relative success with over-the-hill stars and giving them a platform to play their football. JayJay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff were very nearly joined by the Brazilian superstar according to his English agent Peter Harrison who said at the time: "With a transfer of this size you can never be 100% sure but Sam's made his offer and things are going very well. There's nothing untoward about the delay. Rivaldo just wanted time to think about it. I know for sure that Sam made a good impression on him and so did Phil Gartside. Everything's looking good." Rivaldo himself told the BBC: "I want the challenge of trying to get Bolton into Europe for the first time in their history. It is an exciting time." Unfortunately it never happened, though Bolton did make it into Europe.

Thanks to Liverpool's then-CEO Rick Parry's incompetence, Steven Gerrard famously nearly joined Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. Twice. The move was close in 2004, but Gerrard decided to stay after talks with incoming Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, going on to life the Champions League at the end of the season. You would think that would end any chance of him considering the move, but that summer he came even closer to making the move over to Chelsea as Parry stalled on contract talks, after spending months telling the media he would be tying Gerrard down with a new deal. While Parry said that publicly, in reality he did nothing, leaving Gerrard feeling he was just being messed around and that the club actually wanted the sale. In the end Gerrard decided to stay put.

When Martin O'Neill was searching for a new striker at Aston Villa in 2008 both River Plate striker Radamel Falcao and Palermo forward Edinson Cavani made it known they were keen to join the Villans. Neither eventually made the move as Villa thought they were both too expensive to be worth bringing in. Cavani eventually joined Napoli for just over £10m after a season on loan there, while Falcao went to Porto for less than £5m and became, for a short period, the best striker in the game until injury affected him.

While many people know that Parry made another huge transfer error with regards to Cristiano Ronaldo, when a deal for the then-teenage Ronaldo was thought by Parry to be far too expensive at £3.6m, not many realise that CR7 nearly joined Arsenal in 2003. The teenager trained with the Gunners but a price could not be agreed with Sporting Clube de Portugal. Wenger revealed in 2008: "I had Ronald at the training ground. I showed him around and I gave him a shirt. It had got his name on the back. But in the end it was a question of the amount of transfer fee between the two clubs. Of course, he has proved to be a bargain [at £12.25 million]. But the price that we discussed was in fact much lower, it was divided by three."

Alex Ferguson often admits his biggest regret was the failure to sign Paul Gascoigne when the chance presented itself in 1988. The 21 year old joined Tottenham Hotspur from Newcastle United instead. Ferguson said: "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'. 'So I went on my holidays but Martin Edwards (then chairman) rang and said 'I've got some bad news - he signed for Tottenham. They bought a house for his mother and father in the north east and that swung it'. I think it was a bad mistake, and Paul admits it."

One of the most bizarre deals that nearly happened was Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano joining Barcelona instead. Even more bizarrely, Di Stefano nearly ended up playing alternate seasons with the bitter rivals. Di Stefano was playing for Millionarios but his contract was owned by River Plate. Real Madrid agreed a deal with Millionarios, while Barca had clinched an agreement with River Plate, leading to utter confusion. In the end a decision was made that Di Stefano would play for both clubs, one season at Real then a season at Barca, before going back to Real and so on. Barca ended up giving up their rights to the player allowing him to join Madrid and usher in an era of success which included 5 European Cups in a row and 8 league titles.

Written by Tris Burke July 15 2019 06:55:44


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