Transfer rumours are that of legend, with some of the biggest names in the business allegedly targeted to move to some of the largest and smallest clubs in world football. The likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff have all been involved in some of the most bizarre best “nearly transfers” you could imagine. Every club has a story like this and we are exploring some of the biggest transfer rouses below.
Pep Guardiola to Wigan
Pep Guardiola had a glittering career on and off the field, a faithful stalwart to Barcelona and a stint in Italy playing for Roma and Brescia. The Spaniard might be better remembered for his prowess in the dugout, managing some of the biggest clubs in the world, but what of his move failed move to Wigan in 2005.
Guardiola admitted he almost put pen to for the Latics, upon the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2005. The Greater Manchester town deemed the Barcelona man not good enough to don the famous cherry and white stripes, favouring Jimmy Bullard and Graham Kavanagh.
“I was not good enough, that is the truth,” Guardiola said.
Steven Gerrard to Chelsea
Steven Gerrard is the epitome of Liverpool. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the Liverpudlian came close to joining Chelsea.
On 5 July 2005, Gerrard handed in a transfer request at the club he had been at since the age of eight. Six weeks earlier the Liverpool captain had led the side to Champions League glory on an incredible night in Istanbul.
Shock and anger swept across the red side of the city after hearing that the beating heart of the squad was orchestrating a move to rival side Chelsea. Gerrard eventually decided to stay and play for new manager Rafael Benitez, with Liverpool releasing a statement on the club’s official website explaining his decision.
Ronaldinho to Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers are notorious for over-ambitious transfers and the Lancashire town have a paper trial of big names that have circulated through the rumour mill.
November 2010, Venkys London Ltd acquired Blackburn and had a plethora of ambition encompassing the takeover. Ronaldinho was their first target – the club made the former World Player of the Year an offer of £20 million over three years to move to the Riversiders.
“He is keen to play in the EPL and I think that goes in our favour,” Venky’s chair Anuradha Desai told BBC Radio Lancashire.
Virgil van Dijk to Crystal Palace
When the Dutchman arrived at Liverpool, eyebrows were raised over the extortionate fee that followed him. But the defender has transformed Liverpool’s defensive line, playing a monumental part in delivering Liverpool their first Premier League trophy.
It looks like the proof is in the pudding and Liverpool’s decision to spend a £75 million war chest on the Dutchman is a no brainer, but not everyone has been convinced by him. In 2014, Crystal Palace were linked with a move for the then Celtic-defender.
The Eagles were on the verge of parting with £6 million for Van Dijk until they identified a chink in Dijk’s armour. “We could have bought him at Palace for £6 million but my chief scout told me he was too slow,” said Neil Warnock.
Robert Lewandowski to Blackburn Rovers
Robert Lewandowski came very close to putting pen to paper for Blackburn Rovers. In 2010, Blackburn were hovering in the middle reaches of the Premier League table, with manager Sam Allardyce behind the wheel and keen to shore up the ranks with some big names.
Lewandowski had been turning some heads after a blistering year with Polish top-flight Lech Poznan. The striker reportedly favoured a move to the Premier League and fell short of a move to Blackburn, opting to move to Borussia Dortmund.
Big Sam is believed to have bid £4.2 million for the Polish hitman which the club and Lewandowski accepted, but it was the Icelandic ash cloud that scuppered his flight to England’s north west and Allardyce snapped up Nikola Kalinic instead.
Didier Drogba to Birmingham City
Birmingham were just one of a host of clubs interested in securing the services of Drogba from Marseille in the 2003-04 season. It seemed Birmingham City were the favourites in the betting markets to sign the Ivorian.
The Ligue 1 club were demanding a fee of £3 million for the striker and the Birmingham outfit were read to stump up that figure. However, the Blues later opted to secure the services of Emile Heskey instead for around £6 million.
Drogba’s price hit new heights when Marseille progressed to the UEFA Cup final, with the Ivorian scoring against Liverpool on the way. Didier Drogba would eventually sign for Chelsea and the rest is history.